The whole game I was looking up there and there were zeros on the board. In that last inning I had to toughen up when they got some runners on. I wanted the shutout, but I wanted to win more. —Chase Tavonatti, Bingham pitcher
OREM — Hours after fellow Region 4 contender American Fork won its 5A playoff game with offense, Bingham flexed its own muscles with defense.
By the end of the game, only a two-RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning prevented a shutout by Miners ace Chase Tavonatti. His pitching, along with Bingham's fielding, was still more than enough to secure a 5-2 win over Syracuse at Brent Brown Ballpark on Tuesday.
The win punches Bingham's ticket to the 5A state baseball semifinals, where the Miners will play the winner between Layton and Riverton.
Tavonatti called Syracuse was a "great team" while admitting he was disappointed he didn't get the shutout.
"The whole game I was looking up there and there were zeros on the board," Tavonatti said. "In that last inning I had to toughen up when they got some runners on. I wanted the shutout, but I wanted to win more."
Tavonatti and the Miners got that win, blanking the Titans through the first six innings and letting them reach second base just once in that span. The senior hurler struck out six on the day.
When Tavonatti wasn't throwing third strikes or forcing easy outs, he was watching his teammates make play after play for the same result. Catcher Jacob Druce threw out a base runner attempting to steal second in the second inning. Second baseman Lance Harrison then engineered a double play, completed by shortstop Ryan Llewelyn and first baseman Coleman Stout.
"He’s (Tavonatti) been really good ever since his first preseason outing," said Bingham head coach Joey Sato. "We’re just happy as heck for him. He’s such a competitor. Sometimes he doesn’t have the greatest stuff, but he still sticks his nose in there and doesn’t back down and the kids behind him know that too and they play really good behind him."
Syracuse countered early with superb fielding of its own. Titans pitcher Jason Jourdan picked off Bingham's leadoff runner in the first inning. Right fielder Kole Tracy deterred a tag-up run on a pop up, completing a spot-on throw to home.
Bowcutt drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, bumping Bingham's lead to three.
Florez doubled and Harrison sacrificed in the seventh inning, each driving in another run to cap off Bingham's scoring.
After giving up a double and single to start the bottom of the seventh, Tavonatti put two away, forcing a groundout and coming up with strikeout No. 5, leaving him one out shy of the shutout.
Syracuse left fielder Jake Groberg dashed his hopes, making good contact for a single to left field.
Tavonatti recovered, striking out the next batter for the final out.
Syracuse, now in the one-loss bracket, will play Cottonwood at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. The winner of that game will play again at 7 p.m. the same day.
Matt Petersen is the sports web editor for DeseretNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheMattPetersen.