KEARNS — Jason Luke told his coach he’d run through a brick wall if necessary, which the Cottonwood left fielder almost did on Monday in the 5A baseball playoffs.
The lefty’s sliding catch in foul territory on top of the bullpen mound just feet from the cement retaining wall had everyone at Kearns High School buzzing. Luke’s catch was the second-to-last out in Cottonwood’s 4-1 win over Timpanogos, and the ultimate web gem that could’ve made any SportsCenter highlight any day of the week.
“One of the most spectacular catches I’ve ever seen,” said Porter Hodge, Cottonwood’s ace who picked up in the win and benefitted from Luke’s catch with two runners on base.
Hodge struck out the last batter of the game as the Colts punched their ticket into Wednesday’s last winners bracket game at UVU at 11 a.m. They will face Jordan, which beat Skyridge 11-1 in six innings in the nightcap at Kearns on Monday.
Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford said Luke’s catch epitomizes his importance to the team.
“On senior day Jason told me he’d run through a brick wall for me, and when he came off the field right there he said, ‘What did I tell you on senior day? I meant it.’ It gets me choked up thinking about it. He’s been our leader all year,” said Crawford.
Both Hodge and Timpanogos ace Carter Wilde pitched great games, but Cottonwood did enough to get four runners across the plate on seven hits.
“We talk about grinding and trying to spoil pitches, we’re not planning on big huge innings like we’ve had most the year. If we can score one, we’ve talked about picket fencing teams, and making them work. Making pitchers' pitch counts go up and having long offensive innings,” said Crawford.
Cottonwood got off to a great start on Monday, scoring twice in the first inning. Both runners reached on walks, with Hodge driving in the first run on a double to left field and then Daniel Gonzalez following with a sacrifice fly to right.
Wilde settled down and retired seven straight before Hodge singled to lead off the fourth inning, with his pinch runner later scoring on an RBI single by Andy Okamoto for the 3-0 lead.
Timpanogos scored its lone run in the top of the sixth with an RBI single from Ethan Hixson, with the second baseman accounting for two of the T-Wolves’ four hits.
Cottonwood got the insurance run right back in the bottom of the sixth as Carson Angeroth doubled home Gonzalez after his leadoff single.Comment on this story
In the seventh Hodge put two runners on base with a hit batter and a walk, but Luke helped minimize the damage with his spectacular catch.
In the second winners bracket game at Kearns, Jordan broke open a close game with nine runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win comfortably, 11-1.
Jordan ace Kannon Handy picked up the win by striking out six. Tyler Zupon gave Jordan the 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on a two-run shot to left field.
The ‘Diggers tacked on nine more runs in the sixth inning, capitalizing on five hits and two Skyridge throwing errors.