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High school baseball: American Fork puts punctuation mark on dominant 2021 season by winning 6A state championship

American Fork’s sweep of rival Pleasant Grove in 6A championship series clinches 10th state title in school history as the Cavemen finished 2021 with a 30-1 record

SHARE High school baseball: American Fork puts punctuation mark on dominant 2021 season by winning 6A state championship
American Fork High School baseball dominated the 6A state basketball tournament at UCCU Ballpark in Orem last year.

The American Fork Cavemen celebrate during Game 2 of the 6A baseball championship against the Pleasant Grove Vikings at UCCU Ballpark in Orem on Saturday, May 29, 2021. The Cavemen won 8-0.

Annie Barker, Deseret News

Box score

Knowing the likelihood of recency bias, coach Jared Ingersoll wasn’t about to answer whether this year’s American Fork team is his best ever.

He’s had some good ones, and inevitably would’ve been slammed with messages from former players if he declared the 2021 team his best ever. However, with the way this year’s team dominated from start to finish, how could it not be considered the best in school history?

The Cavemen polished off a near-perfect season on Saturday afternoon at UVU beating rival Pleasant Grove 8-0 in Game 2 of the 6A state championship series to claim the school’s first state title since 2016 and 10th in school history.

“Definitely special,” admitted Ingersoll.

He coached American Fork to states titles in 2012 and 2016, but neither of those teams can hold a candle to the 2021 team’s 30-1 record. The 2012 team went 25-6 and the 2016 team went 24-8.

In fact, there’s only been one other state champion in Utah’s largest classification to lose just once: Taylorsville in 2002 (25-1).

“That’s pretty remarkable considering the teams we’ve played,” said Ingersoll. “Every game that we’ve had this year has been different guys stepping up at different moments. Our lineup was deep and talented.”

In Game 1 on Friday night it took American Fork a few innings to settle in on its way to the 9-6 victory. In Game 2, it effectively put the game away with a five-run second inning for the early 6-0 lead.

With the way junior Kaden Carpenter was pitching, those six runs were more than enough for American Fork to put the game into cruise control in front of large contingent of red-clad fans.

“Kaden is a great baseball player and he’s got a bright future. I think he learned from his previous experience this week and just got up there and was just solid for us. When I saw him on the bus, I knew he was locked in,” said Ingersoll.

Carpenter struck out eight and only allowed five hits while shutting out Pleasant Grove’s potent lineup for all seven innings. About the only mistake he realistically made was a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at first in the first inning. That allowed the Vikings’ leadoff hitter Kyler Lester to advance all the way to third base with no out.

That’s where Lester was stranded though as Carpenter retired the next three batters.

In the second and fifth innings Carpenter walked the leadoff batter, but got out of a potential jam each time with an inning-ending double play.

“In my opinion we have the best defense in the state and for me to be able to throw to contact and trust our guys, that was the key,” said Carpenter.

When Carpenter got the last batter to fly out to right field, he was mobbed by teammates and ended up at the bottom of the celebratory dog pile at the mound. He said there’s no better feeling.

“I’m on cloud nine. To spend one last game on the field with my brothers, there’s no better feeling,” said Carpenter.

At the plate, the production came throughout the lineup as eight of the nine batters in the lineup recorded a base hit. Fisher Ingersoll provided the biggest hits yet again.

American Fork’s No. 2 hitter bounced a solo home run off the top of left-center field fence in the first inning giving his team the early 1-0 lead.

When he came to bat again in the second inning, American Fork had already scored three times and led 4-0. With a runner at second and two outs, Pleasant Grove elected to pitch to the red-hot Ingersoll, who punished the decision by smashing the ball over the left field fence to extend the lead to 6-0.

“Had a tough game yesterday. We felt like we could’ve played better, and we wanted to leave no doubt today and that’s what we came and did and it was awesome,” said Ingersoll.

In the junior shortstop’s other two at bats, he reached base on a walk and hit batter raising his on-base percentage in the five games this week at UVU to .894 (17 of 19). He finished those five games going 12 of 14 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

“It was just trusting our approach through the whole time. We have a great staff here and they dialed it in for us just to come in with our approach and do what we do,” said Ingersoll.

Asked if he’s ever had a stretch of games where he’s felt more comfortable at the plate than he did this week, Ingersoll said with a smile on his face, “probably not.”

American Fork added two runs in the fifth inning on a bases loaded walk and then double play. That double play helped Pleasant Grove avoid the 10-run mercy rule.