6A playoffs: No. 1 Fremont baseball advances to final 8, where it will play with ‘house money’
PLAIN CITY — Fremont High’s baseball team beat Clearfield 11-1 in six innings Friday and won the 6A second-round playoff series between the teams 2-0.
The No. 1-seeded Silverwolves advanced to the final eight of the state tournament and play at noon Monday at BYU’s Miller Park.
The banner hung near Fremont’s dugout that lists the team’s five goals for the season already had seen three accomplished this year.
The fourth goal was “advance to the final eight.”
“Now we’re with the best teams in the state so we’ve got to work harder than we ever have, and we feel good where we are right now,” junior pitcher Landon Salvesen said.
Salvesen struck out nine batters in six innings, allowing four hits and the one run, which came via an RBI single from Clearfield’s Jake Ross in the second inning.
Jaxon Larkin hit an RBI single to put Fremont (26-1) up 2-1 in the third, then catcher Bodee Goins had a two-run base hit for a 4-1 lead. Goins hit 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs.
No. 22 Clearfield, fresh off a demolition upset over Davis last week, opened the fourth inning with a double and a single. Salvesen induced a flyout, then struck the next two batters out to end the danger.
“He was really locating the fastball, he was hitting spots. Wherever I was setting up he was painting the corners, then that slider was really lethal today, too,” Goins said about Salvesen.
Fremont further broke the game open in the fifth with four runs. Logan Penland hit a two-run base hit for an 8-1 lead after Gavin Douglas’ ground-rule RBI double. Penland had three RBIs.
Peyton Surrage hit a two-run single in the sixth, then the run-rule-triggering run crossed home after a throwing error — all of this on a day where Fremont’s 3-4-5 hitters batted 2 for 10. On the flip side, the Silverwolves drew eight walks at the plate (plus had three hit batters).
Fremont coach Garrett Clark was happy the team didn’t overlook Clearfield. Afterward, he was focused on the task awaiting the team: the final eight.
“We might be a No. 1 seed, but we’re playing with house money. We know what they think of us down there. We don’t care, we really don’t,” Clark said.
When Clark says “they,” he says he’s referring to internet commenters in Utah County, as well as what he claims is a negative, yearslong stigma throughout the state that supposedly paints Region 1 as a cupcake region with cupcake teams.
“We made things look like we’re playing the easiest opponents in the world, but we’re not and that should be a credit to us and our kids,” Clark said.
Region 1 teams won all possible playoff series in the first round and fared well in the second round through Fremont, Farmington (who swept West Jordan) and Layton (who was inches away from a huge upset win over No. 3 Riverton).
Then again, Region 1 teams are 3-10 at the state tournament’s neutral site (typically, the final eight) the last three seasons and haven’t fared much better in prior years, either.
“They think we’re over-ranked, they think we play in a weak conference, a weak region even though we just won five of our first preliminary (playoff series) — all five of our teams won … You just know what they think and it’s fine because it’s always been that way. We accept it, we embrace it. That’s fine. We don’t care. We really don’t care,” Clark said.
A northern team hasn’t won the state baseball championship in the state’s highest classification since Bountiful triumphed in 4A in 1988. Nine of the last 11 state baseball champs in the highest classification come from modern-day Region 3 (Bingham) and Region 4 (Utah County).
“We just got to focus on what’s important and know that these are the best teams in the state and we’re just as talented as they are and we have the tools to compete with them,” Salvesen said.
Fremont’s team this year represents the north’s best chance at a deep playoff run since Davis in 2017, who flamed out in the playoffs after a 24-0 regular season.
“I think it’s going to take — somebody’s gotta get hot, we might have to get a lucky break, but everybody’s gotta compete to their best abilities and just have fun. Baseball’s a fun game,” Goins said.
The Silverwolves used only two pitchers, Salvesen and Bridger Clontz, in this week’s two playoff games, something that could also be considered a win given the potential glut of games next week.
Friday’s game had another accomplishment that sort of went down as a footnote for a team celebrating a trip to BYU. It was Fremont’s 25th straight win, which is now the sixth-longest win streak in UHSAA history.