Randy Hollis: High school baseball: Bingham Miners shut out nationally ranked Spanish Fork Dons
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SPANISH FORK — Preseason prep baseball games don't generally draw much of a crowd, especially on an overcast day.
But this was not just your everyday prep baseball matchup, either.
No, this was Bingham and Spanish Fork — two perennial powerhouse programs, both of them defending state champions with plenty of star power on their respective rosters, including several young men who will be playing college ball and possibly even professional baseball someday.
So it's no wonder that the stands at Nelson Field were filled to near-capacity for Thursday's non-league game between these two dynamic diamond dynasties, with enough professional and college scouts on hand to field a team of their own.
And what they saw was Bingham senior right-hander Connor Williams handcuff Spanish Fork for four innings and bolster his own cause by blasting a run-scoring double and an RBI triple in the Miners' 4-0 victory over the previously undefeated and nationally ranked Dons.
"I've just been hitting the ball really well and just put a good swing on it and hit it hard," said Williams, who got both of his big hits with two outs.
And while Williams' bat was the biggest difference-maker in the outcome, his pitching performance was also solid, as he overcame some early wildness — three walks in the first inning and six in all — and struck out seven, allowing just one hit.
"I just came out a little tight and after a few innings I started loosening up and then I started pounding the (strike) zone pretty well," he said, admitting that having all those scouts in attendance might have given him a bit of an adrenaline rush. "I try not to focus on that too much. … I've just got to try and ignore that and play the game.
"That's a big win for us but nothing really starts counting until region, so it's a good win for us and we just need to keep building off of it."
Williams pitched his way out of serious trouble two times with the bases loaded, getting a big strikeout when he needed it, and twice he was able to retire Spanish Fork slugger Kayden Porter with runners in scoring position.
"He's a competitor and he rises to the occasion quite often," Bingham coach Joey Sato said of Williams.
"We've seen that in basketball, too, and we knew he'd compete. We knew he'd go out there and throw a quality pitch when he needed to and he managed to do that."
Williams and Spanish Fork starter Brady Corless hooked up in a scoreless duel through the first four innings before Bingham broke through in the fifth.
Brennon Lund got things going with a single to left, advanced to second on a wild pitch and, with two outs, hustled home when Josh Sandquist smacked a single up the middle to score Lund with the game's first run.
Williams followed with a double in the right-center gap to make it 2-0.
Skinny senior right-hander Parker Green came on in the fifth frame and threw two shutout innings for Bingham, allowing just one hit, and the Miners struck gold with two more runs in the seventh when — again with two outs — Sandquist walked and Williams hit a towering drive off the right-field fence for a run-scoring triple. Jake Druce drove Williams home with an RBI single to left to make it 4-0, and Bingham's Brady Lail came on to finish things off on the mound with a 1-2-3 seventh.
Sato said this win wasn't about making any kind of statement as it was about playing against a great team coached by his Spanish Fork counterpart, Jim "Shoe" Nelson.
" 'Shoe' and I are good friends," Sato said. "It's the preseason, it's a quality program, and you play people like that to find out where you're at. It doesn't really mean a whole lot.