It certainly wasn’t the cleanest game for us — we made a lot of mistakes — but I felt like each time we did (make a mistake), we recovered and got back into it mentally, and that’s a really good sign for this team. —Taylorsville coach Jake Brown
TAYLORSVILLE — Taylorsville continued its hot start to the season by knocking off No. 2-ranked Cottonwood, 8-6, in an 11-inning, heavyweight bout to pick up its fourth-straight win and gain sole possession of first place in Region 2.
“I really like how we competed all day long,” Taylorsville coach Jake Brown said of his team’s efforts. “It certainly wasn’t the cleanest game for us — we made a lot of mistakes — but I felt like each time we did (make a mistake), we recovered and got back into it mentally, and that’s a really good sign for this team.”
After swapping a couple of runs throughout the first four innings, the Warriors (7-3, 4-0) quickly found themselves down by three runs after Cottonwood’s Andrew Goodfellow roped a two-RBI triple in the top of the fifth to give the visitors some momentum.
However, just like all great teams do, Taylorsville regrouped.
The home team came out in the bottom of the fifth inning, listened to its coaches, stayed focused, and executed its game plan almost perfectly to hang on for the narrow victory.
“It’s a very hard thing and people underestimate how difficult it is — especially for 17-year-olds — with the emotional swings that games like this offer,” Brown said of his team’s mental toughness. “It was an important game in our region, and when you feel like you have it and it gets taken away from you, you have to go out there and play defense. We work hard on the mental approach, and I thought our guys did a tremendous job with that. It was probably our best asset today.”
Sophomore slugger Braden DeBenedictis and Kenneth Atwood got things rolling for the Warriors in the fifth, as they each singled to drive in three runs and help the Warriors rally for four runs off of four hits to retake the lead, 6-5, and regain some momentum.
Shimer replaced West in the top of the seventh and gave up just four hits and zero runs in four innings of work.
“Rylan was great for us, especially when we started making mistakes,” said Brown. “We had a lot of chances to score and didn’t, and he came back out on the mound and filled it up, strike after strike, and gave us another chance over and over again. He really had a great outing for us tonight.”
After retiring the side in the top of the 11th inning, DeBenedictis calmly stepped to the plate and cracked a two-run, walk-off home run to finally break the tie and give the home team the 8-6 win. DeBenedictis finished the night with two hits and four RBIs to power the Warriors.
“I was pretty confident that we were going to break through at some point,” Brown said. “I knew that if we continued to stay with it, we were going to break through.”
The two teams will next head back to Cottonwood (9-5, 3-1) for the second and third matchups between these two region powerhouses. The second of the three-game series is set to get underway Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Cottonwood High.
“We have a long way to go, it certainly doesn’t salt anything over,” said Brown. “We aren’t done here. We have another big game (Thursday) and another one on Friday, and Cottonwood is a very good team, so we’ll see.”
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sportswriter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724