OREM — Layton pitcher Jaden Trujillo was gassed. The senior was 110 pitches into a three-hit, five-strikeout performance against Riverton but had just walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the seventh.
So Lancers manager Robert Ferneau did the same thing he did one day earlier — he called to his bullpen. In the previous round of the 5A baseball tournament, Ferneau masterfully summoned Trujillo to preserve a 10-7 win over Cottonwood.
This time, he ended Trujillo's stellar pitching day and — with a berth in the 5A state championship on the line — put the ball in the hands of junior Caleb Harrop.
“Get three outs,” Harrop said of his mindset at Brent Brown Ballpark Thursday. “I just knew that I had to make my pitch and what happens, happens.”
Harrop walked the first batter. Then after a sac bunt and fly out he walked another. Suddenly, the bases were loaded and Utah commit Cam Gust, who had delivered a standup double the prior inning, stepped to the dish for Riverton.
He walked him, too.
So the ‘Wolves had pulled within one run with the bases loaded and two down. Harrop needed an out to keep Layton's season pulsing. He wound up and blazed strike one. On the second pitch, he went back at the batter, forcing a fly out to left to send the Lancers to the 5A state championship with a 3-2 win.
“There was a touchy time right there,” Ferneau said. “You never want to have that happen; put the winning run on second. But I have all the faith in the world in Caleb Harrop. Caleb did the job for us.”
The Lancers (20-9) will face Bingham (21-7) Friday at 11 a.m., needing to win two straight to earn championship rings.
“A lot of luck and hopefully some timely hitting and some good pitching,” Ferneau said when asked what it’s going to take to beat the Miners twice.
The ‘Wolves, who were playing in a doubleheader after losing to Bingham in the winners bracket, ended a scoreless fight in the fourth off two Layton errors. Riverton’s Jared White reached on a throwing error, then after a fielder’s choice put Gust on base, another throwing error at first brought Gust home.
The Lancers, despite dominating at the plate, found themselves trailing because of mental errors. Riverton, however, returned the favor.
In the sixth inning, Layton's Quentin Marcelin reached safely when a routine popup was lost in the sun before Logan Greenhalgh slapped an RBI single. Then, consecutive errors gave Layton a 3-1 advantage.
“They made a costly error that provided us a run,” Ferneau said. “We got to clean up our base running. That’s for sure. We’re swinging the bats OK right now and as long as we put the ball in play we’ve got a chance.”
Riverton threatened with Gust’s double in the bottom half of the sixth, and once again before the final out popped the glove.
“Happiest I’ve ever been,” Harrop said of the save.
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