Riley Ottesen, who had started the game on the mound, re-entered in the eighth and induced a game-ending double play to seal the wild victory.
"We couldn't afford a sweep and had to do anything we could to win that one," American Fork catcher Zac Willis said. "Today was a huge confidence and morale booster, especially with a close game like that to end the series."
The game was tied 4-4 in the eighth inning before the Cavemen (7-2 region, 12-4 overall) scored four runs. Zach Haws and Brock Lamb both had run-scoring singles, and Alec Shultz hit a two-run double to put American Fork ahead. Bingham came within 8-7 in the bottom half and had runners on first and second with one out when Ottesen, who had thrown the first five innings, re-entered the game.
Chase Tavanoti lined out sharply to second, and a Bingham runner was doubled off first base to end the threat and game.
"That was a hard one because it was so up and down," Cavemen coach Jarod Ingersoll said. "Like I told the guys, we've got to be more steady and stop this roller-coaster thing. This was huge for us because we put ourselves in position to still compete for the region championship."
Ottesen was anything but sharp in the beginning. The right-hander labored through the first five innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits. Reliever Craig Brailsford didn't fare much better, but Ottesen returned to close the door.
"The last two games he's thrown we've extended him, and today he had thrown 80 pitches after five innings," Ingersoll said about Ottesen. "He didn't look like he had his stuff and [Brailsford] also struggled. But the one thing about Riley is he's a competitor. He's been in those situations before."
Bingham (5-4, 11-7) loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman down 8-4 in the eighth. Austin Florez delivered a two-run single, and Coleman Stout followed with a run-scoring single. Lance Harrison singled to put the potential winning run on first base before Ottesen bailed out the Cavemen.
American Fork broke a scoreless game with three runs in the third inning only to see Bingham score four in the bottom half. The Cavemen tied the game in the fifth inning on Sean Hardman's sacrifice bunt to the right side.
"You can always count on a close game with Bingham," Willis said. "We had to stay focused the whole time. Not just the nine on the field, but in the dugout, too. We have to keep doing what we're doing and come out like we did today."
Willis had three of the Cavemen's 12 hits. Brennon Lund doubled twice and had four hits to pace Bingham, which had 15 total hits.