HIGHLAND — For Lone Peak senior Ethan Lamb, Friday felt like Christmas.
For the first time in over two months, Lamb was waking up on game day with the Knights’ opening game of pool play of the UPG Last Chance Tournament. Scoring the game-winning run at the end of that afternoon, then, must’ve felt like learning the biggest present under the tree was yours.
Lamb went 2 for 2 with two doubles, two runs and a pair of walks, and Ryder Christensen drove in Lamb with the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth to help Lone Peak hold off Copper Hills, 5-4 Friday at Lone Peak High School.
“I talked to a bunch of kids on the team, and it was like Christmas Eve last night. We didn’t sleep one bit,” Lamb said. “We were all really excited to be here.
"I’m glad that a bunch of dads, umpires and teams could put this together.”
Christensen went 3 for 3 for a double and two walks, and Trey Gambill was 1 for 2 with a pair of runs scored for the Knights, who will host Syracuse at 1 p.m. MDT Saturday in the second game of the round-robin, four-team group stage that serves as a de facto state tournament for seniors of the eight teams invited since the cancelation of the 2020 baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It feels great to be back where we left off,” Christensen said. “We got cut short by COVID, and it feels good to be back with everyone.
“There were some first-game butterflies, for sure. But after a couple of innings, it was right where we left off.”
Replay: Lone Peak 5, Copper Hills 4
Copper Hills, which outslugged Syracuse 10-6 in the first game of the day, was the early aggressor Friday. Kyle Hoffman’s solo shot on the third pitch of his first at-bat paced a three-run first inning for the Grizzlies, and the two sides battled to a 4-4 stalemate until the final frame.
“Everyone started to dial up what they worked for as the innings went on,” Lamb said.
After surrendering four runs, four hits and stranding five runners in the first three innings, the Knights put senior Chase Comer on the mound.
Credit for the win goes to Comer, who struck out two, but he got plenty of help from his defense. Whether it was Gambill making a diving grab over his head in centerfield, Lamb making a full extension in left, or Karsten Hatch avoiding a collision in right-center for another grab, the Knights’ defense only allowed one run on two hits the rest of the game.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the top of the sixth, Lamb belted a double off a changeup that set up Christensen’s RBI base hit up the middle and gave Lone Peak a 1-0 advantage in its pool.
“I knew if he could get something through, I was running. That’s exactly what he did,” Lamb said. “He comes up clutch all the time. He came up clutch that time, hit a ball up the middle, and I got through to score.
“You can’t ask for much more.”
Christensen was hoping to send the ball to the far side of the field. But he’ll take a center-field liner to win it all.
“I’ve never felt anything like that before,” he said. “He put it where I need to hit it and (I) did my job.”
Replay: Copper Hills 10, Syracuse 6
In addition to Hoffman’s homer, Braden Campbell went 2 for 4 with two runs scored to lead Copper Hills.
Lamb did the rest to give the Knights a 1-0 edge after the first day. It’s just one day of pool play, and after the four-team, round-robin group stage, all eight teams will be seeded into a double-elimination bracket next week.
But it felt great to be back on the diamond — and even better to win, the Knights said.
“It’s huge to get off on the right foot,” Lamb said. “We came in here thinking this is a must-win, and it sets us up great for the rest of pool play.”
Pool play wraps up Saturday, with five games across three sites. American Fork will host Bingham in the first game at American Fork at 10 a.m., followed by Jordan-Riverton and Lone Peak-Pleasant Grove.
Before the nightcap, the Knights will host Syracuse, while the Vikings will host Copper Hills, with opening pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
The 5A tournament, which consists of 10 teams in two pools, will also finish pool play Saturday. Cottonwood and Lehi will play at 10 a.m. at Salem Hills, followed by Spanish Fork-Mountain View and Salem-Provo, while Maple Mountain will host Timpanogos at 1 p.m., preceding Orem-Lehi.
Select games will be streamed at live.ksl.com, courtesy of Deseret News Rewind and Spanish Fork Community Television.