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6A playoffs: Syracuse baseball upsets 3rd-seeded Fremont with its ‘cleanest’ games all season

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | May 19, 2023
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Syracuse's Jaden Keblis (left) and Tag Hamblin (right) celebrate during a 6A state tournament game at Fremont High School on Friday, May 19, 2023.
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Fremont's Landon Salvesen slides into first base during a 6A state tournament game against Syracuse at Fremont High School on Friday, May 19, 2023.
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Syracuse's Jake Hopkins throws a pitch during a 6A state tournament game at Fremont High School on Friday, May 19, 2023.

PLAIN CITY -- Thursday, Syracuse High's baseball team lost 9-0 at No. 3 Fremont and didn't get a hit in the first game of the teams' best-of-three series in the second round of the 6A state tournament.

The No. 14 Titans needed nothing less than a 180-degree turnaround on Friday in order to extend the season.

That's exactly what happened.

Syracuse upset Fremont 2-1 and 6-2 on the road to win the teams' playoff series 2-1, and the Titans wildly celebrated on the infield after arguably their biggest day of the season.

"I'm ready to cry," said Syracuse coach Trevor Thomas, who's leaving to teach and coach football at Layton High next school year. "Emotions are high. It's all these kids, they could have folded when I told them I was leaving, they could have folded and they didn't."

"Lot of competitors on this team, coach Thomas always preaches, 'You gotta compete every pitch, every play, every at-bat,' and that's what we believed in. Even our group chats, everyone believed that we could pull two today from them," SHS catcher Tatum Martin said.

Martin said the Titans (15-14) felt like they had a chance early in Friday's first game, the 2-1 win. Easton Hamblin's sacrifice fly gave them a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Fremont pulled starting pitcher Calvin Morrow after he walked three of the first four batters of the inning and brought in Anthony Marziale.

Marziale and Syracuse's Jake Hopkins waged a pitching duel from that point forward. Marziale went 6 2/3 innings with three hits, one run and one walk allowed against 11 strikeouts.

Hopkins pitched 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts, four hits, three walks and one run allowed. It was the best pitching performance of the season for both players.

"It's just crazy, overwhelming, but I'm glad we pulled it off. I trust my guys, we all trust each other, we knew we had a chance and we knew Fremont was beatable," Hopkins said. "Everything was working for me, honestly, I was locating a lot better than I usually do, and pitching coach was keeping me stable out there."

A wild pitch tied the game 1-1 in the second inning, and the Silverwolves (22-5) had two runners on with no out. Hopkins got the Titans out of trouble.

After a dropped third strike in the fourth, Fremont catcher Bodee Goins threw to second base and Syracuse's go-ahead run scored from third.

Syracuse's defense put away what little offensive resistance the Silverwolves had and Martin picked off Karston Jamison at first base to end the game.

"That was probably our cleanest two games we've had all year, I don't even know -- we kicked one today. I don't think we had a physical error, kids were diving, kids made plays that haven't made plays like that all year. They just don't want the season to end, so this is awesome," Thomas said.

Jaden Keblis pitched the final two outs of the first game, then turned around and threw 5 1/3 innings in the second game, giving up eight hits and two runs with four strikeouts. Andrew Sprague closed the game with 1 1/2 scoreless frames and struck out Morrow to end the series.

Facing yet another good pitching performance, strings of Fremont miscues compounded Syracuse's pressure on the basepaths.

The top of the first inning went walk, error, error and a bases-loaded walk to Tag Hamblin for a 1-0 Titans lead. Hopkins' RBI single made it 2-0.

"After the first inning of this game, the momentum was shifted our way and we knew we were going to take two from them," Martin said.

Martin's RBI single in the second made it 3-0 after a walk and two bunts. A passed ball in the third made it 4-0. Tag Hamblin's RBI single made it 5-0 in the fourth.

Morrow hit a solo homer a mile in the air to right field in the bottom of the fourth, then Logan Penland's ground ball to second base scored a run in the fifth. Broc Hopkins' RBI single made it 6-2 for Syracuse in the seventh.

Fremont twice had runners at first and third with no out and scored one run each time. Its offense resembled the power outage that hit the school and the surrounding neighborhood at 11:30 a.m., and which lasted the entirety of both games.

Last year, top-seeded Fremont lost to No. 9 Farmington twice in the final eight of the tournament after going 24-1 in the regular season. This year, the Silverwolves' 21-3 regular season gave way to two more confounding losses against a region team they'd swept.

"Everything that went wrong -- you could see the moment get big and that's something we've really, really focused on for three years now. Ever since at Skyridge (two) years ago, we felt like the moment was really big, and so we've spent every year preparing and trying to figure out how to get kids ready for those moments and I don't know if there is a fix for that," Fremont coach Garrett Clark said.

A Region 1 baseball team will play in Monday's final-eight game at Utah Valley University at 7 p.m. against No. 6 Riverton. It's just not the team anyone thought would be there.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.

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