Maple Mountain 7, Salem Hills 5

No. 2 seed Maple Mountain hung on to defeat No. 6 seed Salem Hills 7-5 to remain in the 5A winner’s bracket.

Maple Mountain took the lead early in its half of the first inning thanks to doubles by AJ Thomas, Cy Chrisman and Logen Bringhurst. Thomas and Chrisman both came around to score.

Momentum shifted Salem Hills’ way in the top of the second inning when Kaleb Degraffenried hit a double of his own and came all the way around to score on a throwing error. That gave the Skyhawks a 3-2 lead.

Maple Mountain head coach Jeremy Thomas said, “It was a great way to start that game. Their arm on the mound is one of the better arms in the region, we’ve known about that for a long time. To come out with a two run lead was a huge start for us. For us to come out swinging like that, I think it set the momentum.”

Maple Mountain stormed back to take the lead when Chrisman crushed a ball to center field for a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Coach Thomas said, “It was huge, AJ found his way on base all four at bats today and then we were able to drive him in. That’s been his job all year, and Cy has drove him in 90% of the time.”

Maple Mountain’s lead-off hitter AJ Thomas did exactly what every coach wants from their leadoff man. He went 4 for 4 at the plate with three singles and a double. He added an RBI of his own.

Maple Mountain added three vital insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth thanks to three consecutive singles by Bennett Averett, Colby Warren and Thomas.

Those three runs proved to be incredibly important as Salem Hill’s starting pitcher Kaleb Holman crushed a ball to center to bring the Skyhawks within two runs.

Maple Mountain closer Bennett Averett would then strike out the last two batters of the inning to close the door on a comeback.

“Bennett has been our closer all year, and he’s kind of been that anchor that could get a job done for us,” said Thomas.

Brighton 7, Orem 2

No. 1 seed Brighton rallied to defeat No. 5 seed Orem and avenge one of its three losses this season.

The normally red-hot offense for Brighton started slow in this one, but it was able to rally and score seven runs in the final three innings.

Both pitchers were dealing early as both Josh Mawhinney for Brighton and Owen Miller for Orem entered the third inning without allowing a run.

Mawhinney got into some trouble in the top of the third inning after a bases-loaded walk scored the first run of the game.

Brighton head coach Mark Kleven said, “I don’t have to say much, I trust them. These guys believe in each other. I don’t have to say much, in fact I try to do what I can to stay out of their way and let them find their way. That’s what they did tonight.”

Miller hadn’t allowed a hit through three innings, but that changed quickly as Brighton tacked on three singles and a double in the inning.

Braxton Biesinger hit an RBI double to left field to tie the game and then Cooper Scott and Cooper Johnson each hit an RBI single.

Kleven said, “It’s contagious. With us, when we play defense and we pitch, we have a chance to beat anybody.”

Tuesday night, defense and pitching certainly gave Brighton much more than just a chance. Mawhinney settled down and pitched through the sixth inning and struck out 10 batters.

Cooper Scott would enter and finish the final inning for the Bengals.

Brighton continued a trend from all season with its pitching and defense, allowing just two runs Tuesday night. It gave up the fewest runs of any team in Utah high school baseball this season.

Kleven said, “Everybody wants to talk about the offense, I’ll take it, but I reminded these guys, ‘Don’t forget what your pitchers have done.’ We’re scoring a lot of runs, but we are also putting a lot of 0′s up.”

Brighton added four more runs in the bottom of the sixth to seal the deal. Riley Brown, Brighton’s leading RBI-man this season, added two more of his own with a single. That brought his season total to 36.