KEARNS — A week earlier, Taylorsville High's baseball team suffered a humbling 11-0 setback against Alta in second-round action of this year's 5A state tournament.
That lopsided defeat dropped Region 2 champ Taylorsville into the dreaded one-loss bracket, where one bad inning might be enough to send you packing from postseason play.
But on Thursday, with both teams' playoff lives at stake and a chance for a state championship hanging in the balance, it was the Warriors' turn to shoot down the Hawks.
Sophomore right-hander Jordan West threw five shutout innings before turning things over to Jake Greenberg, who finished up the combined four-hitter with two scoreless innings of his own, and Kyle Hoffman smacked a pair of run-scoring singles to help give Taylorsville a 5-0 victory and a berth in today's 5A championship finale against American Fork.
"I just was told to go out and throw it up there and do my best," West said, "and I had a really good defense out there that backed me up. I thought we really came out excited and pumped to play and we were determined to beat 'em after we had lost and been put in the losers' bracket by them.
"Our bench was really loud and helpful, cheering us on and everything. And then having a great defense and then going out and doing our best with the sticks."
Taylorsville (23-7) and A.F. (23-5) will tangle at 11 a.m. at Kearns High School's Gates Field, where the Cavemen — who have yet to lose in this year's 5A tournament — need just one more win to claim their first state baseball championship since 1985. If the Warriors win, however, a second winner-take-all game would be necessary at 4 p.m.
Alta (17-13), which had piled up 44 runs in winning its first three tournament games in 10-run-rule routs over Fremont (17-1), Taylorsville (11-0) and Bingham (16-5), dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 duel to American Fork in a championship bracket semifinal earlier Thursday. Thus, the loss to Taylorsville ended the Hawks' season.
West had a masterful one-hit shutout working through five innings, but when the Hawks opened the sixth frame with back-to-back base hits by Mark Cavaness and Colton Nash, Taylorsville coach Jake Brown didn't hesitate to bring in Greenberg, a right-handed reliever who had shut the door on Bingham's last-inning comeback bid the night before.
Greenberg did his job again this time, too, getting a couple of flyball outs, and T-ville shortstop Dallas Carroll fielded a grounder and gunned down Cavaness at home to help preserve the shutout in the sixth.
Two more Alta hitters reached base in the seventh, but Greenberg got a pitcher's-best-friend double play, and a fly ball to left field ended it to send the Warriors into today's tourney title matchup with A.F.
Asked who he was going to throw in today's title game — or games — Taylorsville coach Jake Brown responded with the tongue-in-cheek name "John Wholestaff."
"We're running out our whole staff tomorrow," he said. "We've got all our pitchers dying to get in a game and throw innings for us, and we're confident in that. We're gonna play defense, we're gonna swing it, and our pitchers are gonna step up like they've stepped up all week long and give us good innings."
Of course, it'd be huge for the Warriors if someone could step up the way West did on Thursday against Alta, which won its first three state tournament games by a combined score of 44-6.
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