AMERICAN FORK — The only thing that was different was the hand sanitizer. The crack of the bat, the whoosh of the swing, and the pure adrenaline as the ball soared over the fence in right-center field were all the same for American Fork slugger Spencer Clegg.
Then as he rounded the bases after his two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning, he stopped at home plate, squirted hand sanitizer into each palm, and celebrated the shot with his teammates.
“That started with Kaden (Carpenter’s) home runs, and we decided to bring it out,” Clegg said. “We’re just going to keep it going, and hopefully we hit a few more and we’re able to do it again.”
There was a lot to celebrate for the Cavemen, too, and Clegg hopes more will come.
Better get more hand sanitizer.
Clegg’s two-run shot was part of a five-run fourth inning, and American Fork combined for nine of its 12 runs in the fourth and fifth to pull away for a 12-2 win over Riverton in the winner’s bracket final of the UPG Last Chance baseball tournament Friday at American Fork.
The Cavemen advanced to Saturdays’ championship game, which will be played at 1:30 p.m. MST at Nelson Field in Spanish Fork. If American Fork loses, a winner-take-all final will decide the title of the eight-team tournament that serves as a de facto state tournament for many of the top teams in Class 6A, including Bingham, Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove and Syracuse, among others.
The 5A championship final, where Salem Hills will enter as the winners' bracket champion after a 5-1 win Friday over Maple Mountain, will also be played Saturday at Nelson Field.
“These are eight pretty good teams in 6A,” American Fork coach Jarod Ingersoll said. “For us to be in the final game and have a chance to win, I like what our kids have been doing. Their focus has been good.”
After a 1-1 draw through 3½ innings, the Cavemen came out blazing. Five of American Fork’s eight hitters that inning scored, including Clegg’s two-run homer that drove in Fisher Ingersoll from second that he knew was headed out of the park even as it wobbled over the fence.
“It was just one of those balls; that one felt real good,” Clegg said. “I think it was a change-up or slow fastball, and I was up there to hit a bomb. I swung at it, and it went far.”
Ingersoll previously smacked a two-run single to left field that drove in Payton Wilson and Jack Walker, and Kaden Carpenter added the other run after drawing a walk.
American Fork added four more in the bottom of the fifth, and Carpenter’s bases-loaded walk sent home the second run of the sixth to end the game on a mercy rule and put the Cavemen one win away from a championship.
“We’re just glad to keep being about to play, and stay with the seniors a little bit longer,” Clegg said. “We’ve been up early lifting since winter, and to be here feels good.”
Correction: The American Fork player who hit the two-run home run Friday was Spencer Clegg; the roster incorrectly listed him by jersey number as Brady Larsen.