AMERICAN FORK — The Pleasant Grove baseball team has grown accustomed to Easton Walker giving it a lift in just about any situation. On Tuesday, in a big early season game against rival American Fork, it was Walker's teammates lifting him up en route to a thrilling 12-11 comeback win.
Nine unanswered runs, topped off by Payton Henry's game-winning RBI double in the top of the seventh inning, had Vikings coach Darrin Henry excited about his team's resilience.
"We have a saying here that we're never out of it and we live by that," Henry said. "Today showed that we live by it and we believed we were never out of it, even with Easton not having his A-game today."
The usually dominant Walker was shelled for 11 runs through just 3 1/3 innings pitched. Considering Walker went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA last season, while being named the 5A MVP, the performance was unexpected and would understandably set most teams back on its heels.
But not the Vikings, who rallied to pick up Walker and come away with the unlikely win.
"Easton has carried us on our back for so many games, and it was just a thrill for me to see as a coach," Henry said. "How fun was that to watch?"
Fun for Pleasant Grove and its fans, anyway.
The comeback started in the top of the fifth, with two runs scored to make it 11-5, but really got in gear in the top of the sixth. Six runs scored in the sixth, highlighted by a bases-clearing 3-RBI double by Zach Peterson, tied things up at 11-11.
"We have a lot of confidence in Zach and knew he'd come up with a big hit in a big spot there," Henry said of Peterson's double, which came up just short of sailing over the right-center field fence.
Also aiding the Vikings' comeback in a big way was Ben Eldredge, who provided 2 2/3 innings of shutout pitching in relief of Walker.
"Ben shut the door on them scoring to allow us to come back, so that was a great effort by him," Henry said.
Eldredge then gave way to Darrin Henry's son, Payton Henry, to close things out in the bottom of the seventh after Payton Henry provided what proved to be the game-winning hit.
With the win Pleasant Grove improves to 6-0 overall and gets off to a 1-0 start in a typically tough Region 4.
"This was a big win considering how great of a program American Fork is," Darrin Henry said. "We have so much respect for coach (Jared) Ingersoll and the job he does here. It's the first region game of the year, but any win against a great team like American Fork is a big one."
American Fork falls to 6-2 overall and 0-1 in Region 4 play with the loss. The teams will square off against one another again on Wednesday before capping off the three-game set on Friday.