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High school baseball: Bingham Miners bring home 21st state baseball title in school history

Published: Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 p.m. MDT

Bingham celebrates as Bingham High School defeats Layton High School 6-5 to win the Boy's 5A State Baseball Championship on May 24 in Orem.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

OREM — Great teams always seem to find ways to win, even when they’re not playing their best.

That critical quality is, after all, one of the key things that makes them great — and one of the vital things that can help make them champions.

Bingham High has a great baseball program. Always has and, most likely, always will.

And on Friday, the Miners showed their championship mettle by taking full advantage of an error-plagued Layton High team to grab a 6-5 victory for the 5A state title at Utah Valley University’s Brent Brown Ballpark. It was the 21st state championship in the proud, impressive history of Bingham High’s baseball program.

“Absolutely incredible,” Bingham senior catcher Jacob Druce, who drove in the tying run with a sixth-inning single, said of his postgame elation. “I’m at the bottom of that (celebratory) dog pile and I didn’t feel anything. Actually, I might’ve broken my leg, but I’m all right for right now.

“A big part of our program is tradition and how we carry ourselves and how we’ve always managed to pull through when the time was needed, so just to add another state championship on to the 20 that we already have is unbelievable.

“It was definitely one that was definitely fun to play in,” Druce said. “Those games when you have the lead and you keep it are good, but it’s not a championship game unless the lead goes back and forth a little bit.”

Trailing 5-3 entering the sixth inning, the senior-laden Bingham lineup, which wound up 22-7 overall, put together a three-run rally that was, well, downright weird.

With one out, senior outfielder TJ Bowcutt reached base on an error — one of six costly miscues the Lancers committed during the game, allowing the Miners to score six unearned runs ­— and he advanced to third on a wild pitch and a fly out before scoring on a passed ball.

That made it 5-4, but the weirdness was just beginning.

Senior leadoff batter Brennon Lund drew a two-out walk and senior outfielder Braxton McKee singled up the middle to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Druce then drilled a clutch RBI single to left field, bringing home Lund with the run that tied it at 5-5.

“It was a situation I put myself in over and over again,” Druce said. “I knew that, mentally, our coaches are big on mental imagery, so over and over again I put myself in that situation. And when I got up there, I knew I had what it took to get us at least one run to tie that thing up.”

Then when the speed-up runner for Druce attempted to steal second base, Layton’s catcher tried to throw him out — but the errant throw bounced between the Lancers’ middle infielders and trickled into center field as McKee raced home with what proved to be the winning run.

Chase Tavonatti came on in the seventh to nail down the last three outs on the mound for the Miners, stranding a potential tying run at second base.

“I didn’t even see it,” McKee said of the decisive sixth-inning sequence in which he scored the go-ahead run. “(The third base coach) was just yelling ‘Go, go, go! It’s through the infield!’ and it was just amazing.

“I feel like these guys are my best friends. We had a lot to play for this year and it’s everything you’d ever dreamed of. I mean, that’s what you’ve got to do in big games. You’ve got to take advantage of errors. (Layton’s) a great team; they played a heck of a game all gamelong, but, you know, someone’s gotta win.

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