OREM — It's going to take a mammoth effort to keep the Wayne Badgers from winning the 1A baseball state championship.
Just as a five-run West Ridge lead didn't get the job done in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, a three-run advantage by Piute wasn't enough in the semifinals. Wayne earned its second-straight postseason comeback victory with a 4-3 win over the Thunderbirds in eight innings Friday afternoon.
Wayne advances to play Panguitch in the championship game today at 11 a.m.
"We got heart, I guess," said Wayne shortstop Brennan Rees. "We trust in each other and play as a team."
The Badgers beat Piute when Zack Taylor ripped a one-out triple to the fence in the eighth inning at UVU's Brent Brown Ballpark. Taylor then scored when Cameron Chappell hit a grounder to third, and he beat the throw home. It was Taylor's second big hit of the game, as he had an RBI double in the sixth to tie it at 3-all.
"He's a big kid," Rees said. "When he gets a bat on the ball, it goes."
Taylor also came through with the game-winning hit vs. West Ridge on Tuesday.
"He's worked hard this year on his swing," Wayne coach Scott Ellett said of Taylor. "He's got lots of power and he came through today."
After Piute took an early lead in Friday's game, several of the Badgers had to play clutch roles. The Thunderbirds went up 2-0 in the second when Ty Jessen hit a two-run single. They made it 3-0 in the third with an RBI single by Kelton Price.
Rees got Wayne's offense going with a two-run single in the third before Taylor tied it in the sixth.
"They just kept playing," Ellett said of his team. "That's happened (falling behind) two games in a row and they knew it wasn't over. They showed some character."
Randy Ellett relieved starting pitcher Chris Manzanares in the seventh and struck out the side. He threw another scoreless inning in the eighth after the Badgers loaded the bases but failed to score in the seventh.
PANGUITCH 10, TINTIC 0: The Bobcats are making it look easy in the state tournament.
Panguitch started fast and finished strong in eliminating the Miners. Cameron Fawson led the bottom of the first off with a double, and Riley Miller threw four solid innings, striking out six while allowing two hits.
"I think they (the Miners) are a good team, but we seemed up for the challenge today," said Panguitch coach Clint Barney. "We hit the ball well and ran the bases really well. Everything went well for us today."
A familiar team will win the 1A championship, as Panguitch and Wayne have combined to win the last five 1A baseball titles. They played three times during the season, and Panguitch won two of the games. They've taken different roads to the title game, as Wayne has had to come back to win two playoff games and Panguitch has outscored its opponents 26-1 in two contests.
"It will not be that easy (Saturday)," said Bobcats coach Clint Barney. "Wayne is a quality team. We were fortunate to draw maybe an easier bracket. Wayne had to fight to get there. We expect a tough game. We've got to be ready to play, for sure."
1A baseball tournament
Championship, today at UVU
Wayne vs. Panguitch, 11 a.m.