SPANISH FORK — The Spanish Fork baseball team has a lot on its plate in early Region 8 play, so a 3-1 win against rival Maple Mountain on Wednesday certainly made for a good start, as did a 2-0 win in the second part of a doubleheader.
The Dons did what they often do to get by the Golden Eagles in the first game, and very likely in the second, by using a formula legendary Spanish Fork coach Shoe Nelson used throughout his tenure. That same formula is now being taught by his son, Gub Nelson, who took over the head coaching job in 2014, before leading the Dons to a state championship in 2015.
“We have a thing called ‘O.E.C’ and it stands for Offensive execution criteria,” Gub Nelson explained. “We did a good job of that today and put a little pressure on them to get the three runs that we did.”
None of those three runs came by virtue of big hits, as the Dons’ offensive output didn’t include a single extra-base hit. Instead, they came provided precise and aggressive execution — putting runners in scoring positions and then simply getting them home.
The first run came in the bottom of the first by virtue of leadoff hitter Brady Brook singling and then stealing second base to put himself in scoring position. Three batters later Briggs Newman singled him home for an early 1-0 lead.
Two innings later saw Newman hit a sacrifice fly to again allow Brook to cross the plate to extend the lead to 2-0.
“We did a good job getting guys in scoring position and then executing at times, but we were also helped out by some errors,” Gub Nelson said.
Perhaps best exemplified the combination of aggressive base-running mixed with Maple Mountain errors came in the bottom of the fifth. After reaching first base, Tanner Argyle forced an error when attempting to steal second, and then another, which allowed him to round third base and then cross the plate — giving the Dons a 3-1 lead late.
Another big key came with solid defense and standout pitching from sophomore lefty Cy Neilson. Neilson pitched 6 2/3 inning before giving way to fellow sophomore Taye Newman to close out the final Maple Mountain batter.
“I’m happy with how both of those young sophomores performed in their first Region 8 game,” Gub Nelson said. “Cy didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled through and he has a great future ahead of him.”
Maple Mountain’s lone run came in the top of the fourth by virtue of an RBI single from Kaleb Peterson.
With the two wins on Wednesday, Spanish Fork immediately puts its mark on what is sure to be a competitive Region 8 race.
“We have Salem Hills next week, so getting the first one today — that’s big,” Gub Nelson said after the first win. “We’ve played a tough non-region schedule, so we’re feeling good about things and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Maple Mountain will work to rebound with two games against Springville next week.