High school baseball: Bingham Miners bring home 21st state baseball title in school history
“It’s just a tradition of excellence; it’s unbelievable,” McKee said of the Miners’ championship pedigree. “I mean, it’s incredible to compare ourselves with some of the early Bingham state titles, and I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
Bingham benefited from Layton’s crucial mistakes in the field to build a 3-0 lead after four innings.
A couple of errors and Austin Florez’s sacrifice fly put the Miners ahead 1-0 in the third, and Lance Harrison singled and scored on a three-base error in the fourth. Bowcutt, who wound up going all the way to third base when the Lancers badly botched his bunt attempt, then scored on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Ryan Llewelyn to make it 3-0.
Then Layton’s bats came to life. After a pair of two-out walks, junior outfielder Quentin Marcelin tied the game at 3-3 with one swing of the bat — a three-run homer over the left-field fence.
The Lancers grabbed a 5-3 lead in the sixth when Logan Greenhalgh singled; Rusty Wilbert and Brayden Collingwood drew back-to-back walks to load the bases; and Caleb Harrop lined a two-run double down the left-field line.
At that point, Layton was just six outs away from pushing the 5A finale to a second-game, winner-take-all showdown, but the Miners had other ideas in winning their 11th-straight game and for the 14th time in their final 15 games.
“Tough kids, huh?” Bingham coach Joey Sato said of his ballclub. “They didn’t let the adversity bother them, answered when the other team scored ... and we had the right guys come to the plate when we needed to at that point.
“I really didn’t tell them anything because they knew the task at hand,” he said of the Miners’ sixth-inning rally. “We just wanted to have quality at-bats and just pick away one at a time. We work at that and sometimes things work out for us, which they did today.
“Our kids and our staff, as long as we stay together as we have been and we’re fortunate enough, good things like this happen. I can’t give all those guys enough credit; they know their jobs and they do them well, and I’m just excited for our group of seniors.”
Four of the Miners’ state titles have come under Sato’s guidance, and he got emotional when talking about the program’s tradition-rich history.
“Honored to be a part of that,” Sato said, fighting back tears. “(It) started a long time ago, way before I got there. We just want to keep the traditions alive at our school. Our kids hang in there and they’re tough and we try to execute and sometimes you do it well, and today happened to be one of those days when it happened.
“That’s big for us,” he said of his team’s error-free performance. “That’s a key to our success because we’re not a power-hitting team, so we’ve got to make plays and keep people from having big innings. And today we were able to do that, so we’re really fortunate.
“Layton, let me tell you, what a great group of guys — tough. If our kids played with the heart that they did, I’d be happy, too,” Sato said. “That’s a quality ballclub over there and they deserved to be here, and I can’t say enough good about their coaching staff — and ours, too. Let’s start with the players, and the guys that I have coach here are just phenomenal. I let them run the game and I just try to stay out of their way.”
Layton coach Robert Ferneau, who played his own prep baseball for the Lancers and was trying to bring the Davis County school its first baseball state championship in school history, bemoaned his ballclub’s uncharacteristic and costly defensive lapses. But he was rightfully proud of the way his team exceeded everyone’s expectations this season.
“We picked the wrong time to play bad defense today against a great team like that, and we even have a chance to win at the end there,” he said. “This is a pretty special group of kids we’ve got here. ... (Bingham) put some pressure on us and we just didn’t handle it very well.
“I know that when we showed up, we were gonna do what we do and that’s we’re gonna play hard. We’re a blue-collar team and we’re gonna battle to the last out.
“It would’ve been something that nobody’s every done there, and it would’ve been great,” Ferneau said of the near-miss by Region 1 co-champion Layton (20-10) in its first title-game appearance. “For what these kids accomplished this year, being picked fifth in our league — remember, we were 1-19 three years ago with this group — and these kids have persevered and they just have done nothing but thought about Layton High School themselves and the proper way to play the game of baseball.
“ ... I’ll tell ya, it’s been a great ride with these kids for the last 3-4 years and I wouldn’t change it for the world. And I love these kids. We return five starters coming back and, hopefully, if we get some breaks, hopefully we’ll be here again.”