In game 2 of a three-game series, Pleasant Grove came out on top Tuesday with a 5-1 win to even things up at one game each. The Cavemen won a game Monday at American Fork with a 12-11 score that was closer than you could tell from the score itself.
In this mostly defensive game, the Cavemen crossed the plate early as junior Colton Carpenter hit an RBI single to the right side of the diamond, allowing junior Ryan Hardman to score from third base after a deep drive to left field that put him on third with a standup triple. One pitch later, Hardman scored American Fork’s first and, as it would turn out, only run in the game.
After throwing five pitches, Pleasant Grove’s Staley Hansgen and his defensive-minded teammates came to the plate and scored three runs on four hits, including a massive double to deep left field. At the bottom of the first inning, the Vikings found themselves with the lead at 3-1 and still hungry.
“Nobody hung their head after that loss (Monday) because we all played well,” Pleasant Grove head baseball coach Darrin Henry said. “But we welcome challenges because that is how we build confidence in the team and our ability to play clutch ball.”
In the top of the second inning, Hansgen threw seven pitches. Viking defense got a ground out, a single by Jim Flinders, but he ran into double play two pitches later. Basically, three up, three down.
In the bottom of the second inning, Caveman starter Travis Johnson faced eight Viking batters, giving them two more runs on four hits, and one walk, including a double from sophomore Brock Watkins. The game could have ended at this point as the score didn’t change, but the defense on both sides stepped up, giving the fans, players and coaches reason to feel proud of their players and the drive to not give up.
One of Pleasant Grove’s highlights was a single hit by American Fork’s Hardman to Pleasant Grove’s shortstop, junior Jaxon Brown, who did a bare-handed grab on an angle toward third base to throw Hardman out at first base in one smooth grab and toss for the second out in the top of the sixth inning. Moves like this helped keep Hansgen’s pitch count so low.
“This is a great rivalry; we enjoy playing these games,” Henry said. “We came into this game ready to do battle, strap on the hard hats and play. We welcome challenges.”
In his own efforts, Viking starter Hansgen hit three singles and scored once. Having thrown 62 pitches in six and a half innings, he said, “I think I threw a pretty good game. Our defense backed me up tight and we did what we had to do.”
With the loss, American Fork now has a region win/loss record of 4-1. Pleasant Grove now has region win/loss record of 6-2.
The Cavemen had one run on three hits and one error, with Johnson adding four strikeouts to his credit. The Vikings had five runs on 10 hits and one error. Hansgen had no strikeouts for the game. Game 3 for the series will be played Wednesday at American Fork at 3:30 pm.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports for Deseret Connect.