AMERICAN FORK — Playing baseball in Region 4 is tough, and it’s particularly tough against defending 5A champion American Fork.
The Cavemen have played well this season and have — at times — looked poised to repeat as champs.
But they're not the only tough team in the league.
Region 4 opponent Bingham is no slouch itself, and the Miners have proved as much this week by handing the Cavemen their first two region losses in the first two games of a three-game series.
The Miners followed up their 4-2 home win against the Cavemen on Tuesday with a hard-fought 5-3 victory on the road Wednesday afternoon.
“This was a big win for us,” said Bingham senior catcher Jacob Druce. “We were coming off some tough losses against Riverton, but we knew that if we approached this series right, kept taking games one game a time, that we’d be OK.”
Druce was the catalyst for Bingham’s five-run third inning that proved to be the difference in Wednesday's game. He provided a deep double to left field to give the Miners runners on second and third with no outs.
“That was huge for (Llewelyn) and it was nice to see him come through there because he’d been struggling,” said Bingham coach Joey Sato. “That was obviously a big inning for us and we were able to get some runs after coming up short the first two innings. We had some guys swing the bat well who hadn‘t been swinging it well in that inning, so we‘ll take it.”
Indeed, Bingham’s leadoff hitter was able to get on base in each of the first four innings, but failed to score in three of them.
In between scoring efforts, Bingham starting pitcher Brennon Lund kept the potent Caveman lineup in check — allowing just three hits and two unearned runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched.
“Brennon hasn’t pitched for us for about three weeks, but he’s definitely capable of that type of performance and we knew that,” Sato said. “He was big for us today and we needed that type of performance.”
American Fork isn’t used to yielding easy wins and wouldn’t go down without a fight. The Cavemen took advantage of Bingham errors and two hit batters in the final two innings to cut the Miners' lead to 5-3.
“American Fork is a great team. They’re the state champions until someone replaces them and they never go down easy,” Sato said. “They’re the type of team that makes you earn everything you get and we saw that today. It’s always a big win when you can beat a team like that and hopefully this gives us some good momentum for the rest of the year and into the playoffs.”
With the win Bingham improves to 11-6 on the year and 5-3 in region play. It will cap off its three-game set versus American Fork at home Friday. American Fork, meanwhile, drops to 11-4 on the year and 6-2 in region play.