Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 8:47 PM

SF beats Provo

Spanish Fork shows no signs of rust in whipping of Provo

By Neil K. Warner

Logically, Spanish Fork's Dustin McBride had no business striking out nine and giving up just one hit over five innings.

He hasn't pitched in two weeks.

And other thing that didn't make sense was the performance of outfielder Nick Welsh, who was coming off a pulled hamstring and has been out for two weeks.

Isn't baseball about timing? Heck, a rain delay can throw a team off.

But Thursday afternoon when Spanish Fork opened Region 6 play against Provo, the Dons showed no signs of rust as they roughed up Provo 12-0 in five innings.

McBride was dominating even though he hadn't pitched since one-hitting Orem in the Sunshine tournament nearly two weeks ago.

On Thursday he spotted an 84-mile an hour fastball, and changed speeds effectively with a solid 71-mile an hour curveball to mow through Provo's lineup.

"This long break has been pretty hard to come back. My curveball was going pretty good, it was pretty low, but they were swinging at it," McBride said. "I've been throwing a lot of bullpens. That helped me locate my fastball."

McBride struck out seven of nine Provo hitters and walked just two. His only blemish on the day was a leadoff single from Austin Alder that just cleared the glove of second baseman Kyle Andrus and dropped into shallow right field.

Catcher Kaid Gordon promptly threw out Alder trying to steal second, ending any thoughts of a Provo rally.

While McBride was having his way with Provo's batting order, Welsh was busy blowing the game open.

Welsh doubled to lead off Spanish Fork's 5-run second inning. Jace Brinkerhoff, Aaron Binks, Kyle Andrus, Cory Grove and Gordon all singled to give the give the Dons a 6-0 lead.

Spanish Fork tacked on another run in the third and then finished off the Bulldogs with another five run inning in the fourth.

Brady DeGraw led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. With one out Gordon singled again and Matt Sanford followed with a walk to load the bases, which set the table for Welsh, who cleared the bases with a double to center field.

"I was pretty much just thinking fastball and he threw me one," Welsh said. "I kind of had him (reliever David Griner) down. He bounces a couple times and then throws it so it had pretty good timing on him. That one felt good."

Brinkerhoff capped off a 3-for-3 day when he singled to score a run. The inning continued when Binks hit a fly ball to left field that would have been an out, but left fielder Matt Webster lost the ball in the sun, allowing another run to score.

The win left kept Spanish Fork, the Valley's top-ranked team undefeated at 8-0, and more importantly helped the Dons open region play with a win. Provo dropped to 0-1 in region play.

"I thought we pitched it well. I thought McBride was sharp. He was ahead of hitters all day long," said Spanish Fork coach Jim Nelson. "It was good to see Nick Welsh comeback from his hamstring. He had been struggling and he hit it like he can. We were sharp offensively and had good at-bats. Overall, we played pretty well."

Provo 000 00 - 0 1 4 3

Spanish Fork 151 5X - 12 12 1

Ayoso, Goulding (2), Griner (4) and Beasley. McBride and Gordon. WP - McBride. LP - Ayoso. 2B - Welsh (S) 2, Binks (S).

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page C4.