Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 09:47 PM

Cavemen assure themselves of third place

Jared Lloyd

As far as game excitement went, Tuesday's game between Provo and American Fork was a yawner.

But in the desperate scramble for state playoff positioning in Region 6, it was riveting.

Entering the game, a Bulldog victory and a win by Payson over Spanish Fork would mean a three-way tie for third in the region.

"We talked about it," said Cavemen coach Jared Ingersoll. "We know that both Payson and Provo are good teams. We didn't want to leave it up to a tie. We wanted to take it into our own hands and get the job done."

Maybe American Fork junior pitcher Hap Holmstead took that challenge personally.

Holmstead controlled the game from the mound and at the plate, leading the Cavemen to the dominating 10-1 win. Combined with Payson's loss, American Fork earned third place in Region 6.

"We're happy with taking third if it ends up that way," Ingersoll said Tuesday before finding out the result of the Payson game. "Spanish Fork and Springville (the top two teams in the region) are very good teams, but we had them on the ropes at times."

After Holmstead allowed a run and a pair of hits in the first inning, he bore down and limited the Bulldogs to just three hits the rest of the way.

"I think it was a team effort," Holmstead said. "Usually, if they scores in the first, we give up a little bit. Today they scored first, but we said, 'So what?' and kept playing.

"I know someone is going to score, so I just have to throw strikes and get the next guy. I thought I pitched well today, and I hope it snowballs and I can keep pitching well at state."

The pitching performance is a good sign for the Cavemen, according to Ingersoll.

"Hap has had two good outings in a row," Ingersoll said. "We expected him to throw like that all season. He does a good job when he throws strikes and keeps the batters off-balance."

Holmstead also led the Cavemen with his bat, going 3-for-3 with a walk and drove in five runs.

"I love hitting," he said. "I was seeing it well today. I hope that will snowball into state as well."

Ingersoll said pitching and defense are going to be the key for his team to be successful in the postseason.

"Our defense is really good, but we've struggled a little," he said. "This is the type of score we expect to see if the defense plays well. We want to carry this into the tournament and play good baseball."

For the Bulldogs, the loss ends a disappointing season.

"We didn't play as well as we wanted to this season," said Provo coach Lance Moore said. "We wanted to be more competitive. But next year we'll have a lot of varsity experience. We'll have seven or eight starters back as opposed to the seven or eight total innings of experience we had coming into this season."

American Fork will play at either Box Elder or Bonneville on Tuesday in the first round of the state playoffs.

Jared Lloyd can be reached at 344-2552 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com.

Provo 100 000 0 -- 1 5 1

American Fork 520 012 x -- 10 14 0

Golding, Brimhall (1), Webster (6) and Beasely. Holmstead and Conder. WP-Holmstead, LP-Golding. 2B-Holmstead (AF), Conder (AF), Mangum (AF), Ayoso (P). 3B-Davis (AF).

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page C6.