SOUTH JORDAN — Rack up Round 1 of the Region 4 showdown series for the Miners in one dandy of a high school baseball duel.
And, hey, they're just gettin' started.
Bingham High's hard-hitting senior shortstop Brady Lail drilled an RBI double to the wall in left-center field with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Miners to a dramatic 4-3 victory over American Fork on Wednesday afternoon.
Lail's game-winning drive brought home Josh Sandquist, who had singled to start the seventh, and settled Wednesday's series-opener between the defending 5A champion Miners and the top-ranked Cavemen, who saw their 10-game winning streak snapped. The two teams tangle again Thursday and Friday at American Fork (12-2, 3-1 Region 4).
"I'm loving it, and I can't say enough about my team for staying in it and doing all the things they can," said Lail, who has signed to attend the University of Arizona on a baseball scholarship. "We're gonna have to keep playing like we did today, just keep in the game and when things go wrong keep our heads up and keep going."
Lail admitted he was eager to step into the batter's box with the game on the line and a chance to deliver. And boy, did he ever, capping a 3-for-4 day which also included a run-scoring single in the third.
"I was so anxious," he said of his decisive final time at-bat. "I was warming up in the bullpen and watching everybody going down and I just wanted that other chance to help my team out. … It was a fastball — I finally got a fastball — and it felt good.
"I was getting lucky today; I got a couple hit-and-runs called that made me really concentrate on the ball, and I did what I can.
"It's the best series out here," Lail said of this week's three-game battle between Region 4 heavyweights. "This region with Riverton, P.G. (Pleasant Grove) and even Lehi and Lone Peak every week, you've got to come and play your butt off. And that's what we need to do this whole entire series."
Bingham coach Joey Sato was certainly glad to see a guy like Lail step up to the plate with the outcome hanging in the balance.
"You hope he can get in those situations," Sato said, "but you've got to have faith in all your kids. Whoever is at the plate at a critical time, we're hoping that they're confident enough to deliver."
Bingham (11-2, 3-1) drew first blood in the first inning when Brennon Lund led off with a double, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a fielder's choice for a 1-0 lead.
The Miners made it 2-0 in the third when Sandquist singled, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored when Lail ripped an RBI single off the glove of the A.F. third baseman.
Bingham extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Nate Bloxham singled, was advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by P.J. Goff and came around to score on an error.
Bingham starter Connor Williams, who sailed through the first four innings by allowing just one hit, got in trouble in the fifth when he walked the first three batters. Riley Otteson brought home the Cavemen's first run when he dropped a run-scoring single behind second base. Jake Miles was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score another run, and Danny Beddes' run-scoring groundout tied the game at 3.
But Williams wiggled his way out of that bases-loaded jam without any more damage, and senior right-hander Parker Green came on to pitch for the Miners to start the sixth. Green retired the first five batters he faced, then walked back-to-back hitters before retiring American Fork in the top of the seventh, setting the stage for Lail's heroics.
"He's one of the best kids we've got," Sato said proudly of Green. "He is a hard worker, just one of our leaders, and I couldn't be happier for him. For him to have success like that, it's so nice for us to see because he's one of the best kids we've got, just as a person, and it's nice to see him have that success.
"Great high school game, two great teams. American Fork, what a quality program, well-coached and great competitors. The kid on the mound (Otteson) could've given up early because things didn't really go his way, had a couple of mishaps behind him, but he just kept battling and their team hung in there and tied the score. That's the mark of a good team, and that's what they are. They're ranked No. 1 for a reason, right? And that's probably why.
"In this league, every series you'd better tie it on tight and be ready to go," Sato said. "I don't think there's any weak sisters in this league. You'd better be ready to play night in, night out, otherwise you're gonna get beat. It doesn't matter whether you're ranked or whatever. We expected this, we knew we'd be in for a battle, and they're a quality team and a quality program."
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