WEST JORDAN — A month after losing its only in-state game this season, it looked like Cottonwood might be heading for the same fate on Thursday in the 5A playoffs against the same Jordan pitcher.
Through six innings Cottonwood had only mustered up two hits against Jacob Shaver and trailed by a run heading into the bottom of the seventh.
It needed some magic to remain in the winners bracket heading into Friday’s championship game, and senior Daniel Gonzalez delivered.
The Cuban-born shortstop, who was part of Cottonwood’s state title team two years ago, led off the seventh inning with a triple and the Colts proceeded to manufacture two runs without a hit over the next five batters to rally for the 2-1 win at SLCC’s Cate Field.
“Shaver competed his tail off, and we were just able to get some luck on our side that inning. To win a state championship or even get to that point, you have to have luck, and today we got it,” said Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford.
Gonzalez accounted for two of Cottonwood’s three hits, and his triple was arguably the biggest of the season.
“It was 0-2 and I was waiting for a curveball and he threw curve ball right in the middle,” said Gonzalez, who ripped the ball into the left centerfield gap.
He scored four batters later on a double play attempt by Jordan that could’ve won the game had it been executed cleanly. Instead, the ‘Diggers got nobody out on the play and with the bases loaded and one out, Cade Perkins drove in the winning run on a groundball to the second baseman.
It all started with Gonzalez’s triple.
“The last three weeks he’s been absolutely on fire. He’s kind of carried us, been the guy that’s stepped up. Made a bunch of big plays defensively and offensively,” said Crawford.
With the win, Cottonwood advances to Friday’s 5A championship game at UVU against Timpanogos at 10 a.m. Timpanogos beat Jordan 8-4 in the second game at SLCC on Thursday after a two-hour lightning delay.
Those same two teams met on Monday, with Cottonwood winning 4-1 in a pitchers’ duel between Porter Hodge and Carter Wilde. Those same two pitchers are eligible to pitch again on Friday.
In the first game on Thursday, it was a similar pitchers’ duel as neither team scored in the first five innings. Cottonwood starter Ross Dunn received a no decision despite taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and striking out eight batters in six innings.Comment on this story
Heady baserunning allowed Jordan to score its only run of the game in the top of the sixth inning. Hunter Swapp broke up the no-hitter with one-out single. The next batter walked, giving Jordan runners at first and second. Cottonwood tried to turn a double play on a grounder to short by Kannon Handy, but Handy narrowly beat the throw at first.
A hustling Swapp scored from second base as Cottonwood’s defense hesitated too long waiting for the call from the first base ump, giving Jordan the 1-0 lead. It only lasted one inning, though, as opportunistic Cottonwood rallied in the seventh.