Prep baseball • Spartans start 7 sophomores in the win, but junior is the hero of the day.
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Kearns • Gavin McDermott looked out on a bases-loaded infield when he dug into the batter's box.
There were two outs for his Emery Spartans, who trailed by three runs at the time, so the junior center fielder patiently waited for his pitch.
Pitches came and went. There eventually were two strikes, and McDermott had to deliver.
He did with a bases-clearing double to the left-field gap, tying the Class 2A playoff game 3-3 against Millard.
And if the at-bat that awoke his sleeping offense wasn't impressive enough, he drove in the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning, propelling the Spartans past the Eagles 4-3 in Thursday's 2A winners bracket quarterfinal at Kearns High School.
"I just got something to handle," McDermott said, "and it felt good."
His four-RBI performance was the difference, but he admitted afterward that each time he stepped into the box, a cloud of nerves hung over him. Once pitcher Dillon Wilstead doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth, outfielder Marco Mota hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Ethan Tuttle followed with a ground out to second base, which left Wilstead waiting at third.
Another two-out situation screamed McDermott's name, and he rolled a single into left field to plate the winning run in Wilstead on an 0-2 count.
"I knew I had to get my team started," said Emery's starter who pitched a complete game and racked up six strikeouts.
And after struggling on the mound over the first few innings where he issued walks and couldn't get his curveball over, the sophomore settled down.
"It's a different atmosphere than we've played in," he said.
Emery coach Steve Gordon said "our eyes were big" referencing the seven sophomore starters early in the game, but the Spartans began to see the game unravel in front of them as the game wore on.
"We've played young all year long," he said.
The hero McDermott was a bit more succinct when describing the lesson learned in the quarterfinal win.
"We can't let anyone scare us because we're here and we're winning," he said.