OREM — Cottonwood No. 9 hitter Jason Luke has been clutch at the plate and in the field all season, so it was no surprise that he delivered again in Friday’s 5A state championship at UVU.
With Cottonwood trailing Timpanogos by a run in the bottom of the fifth, Luke delivered a two-run double into the left field corner, the decisive runs as Cottonwood rallied for the 6-5 win to claim its second 5A title in the past three years.
The win was the second over Timpanogos this week, and caps a perfect 5-0 state tournament for the top-ranked Colts in the double-elimination tournament.
“It’s always better to get the first one out; don’t play with fire, just get it done when you can,” said Luke.
Luke’s game-winning double came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and Timpanogos riding a wave of momentum after scoring four runs in the top of the fifth.
With Preston Bird at second and Dylan Reiser at first after a hit batter and single, the left-handed Luke ripped a fastball opposite field that kept tailing away from the left fielder. Timpanogos’ Krew Erickson made a valiant diving effort to catch the ball, which would’ve ended the inning, but when the ball got past him, that allowed both runners to score as Cottonwood took the 6-5 lead.
It was the second time Cottonwood had taken a lead after trailing.
“It shows a lot of toughness on our part to get down, come back, get down, come back. That’s the kind of championship you want, it was fun,” said Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford.
After his team reclaimed the lead in the fifth, Cottonwood reliever Carson Angeroth retired Timpanogos in order the last two innings, ultimately clinching the championship with a strikeout.
“To be able to come out with that strike out there at the end of course is what I’ve always wanted,” said Angeroth.
The start of his relief appearance didn’t go nearly that smooth. He came in for starter Porter Hodge with two on and two out in the fifth, and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases.
Timpanogos’ Paxton Richards took advantage with a two-run double, tying the game at 4-4. Ethan Hixson followed with an RBI single as the T-Wolves reclaimed the 5-4 lead after leading 1-0 earlier in the game on an RBI single by Tyson Heinz in the third.
After he loaded the bases again with another walk, Angeroth finally got out of the fifth inning jam with a comebacker.
“The more runs you can leave on base and prevent from crossing the plate, that’s what wins and loses ballgames, so being able to be able to come out of there with only the damage that they did was huge for us to be able to get the win today,” said Angeroth.
The big inning from Timpanogos was no surprise after the way it has been smashing the ball this week. Since losing to Cottonwood on Monday 4-1, Timpanogos beat Corner Canyon 6-1, Skyridge 18-0 and Jordan 8-4 to advance to Friday’s championship. Another win on Friday would’ve forced a second championship game on Saturday.
Luke made sure it didn’t happen.
“I was feeling good in my swing today. I was looking for a fastball I could just drive, get my hands extended on, I got the fastball low and away and I just went with it,” said Luke.
Timpanogos scored first in the third inning, but Cottonwood tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the third on a throwing error after a double by Porter Hodge. It then went ahead 4-1 with three more runs in the fourth on a solo homer from Reiser, a squeeze bunt from Hunter Cornia and an RBI single from Dalton Hodge.
Hodge finished the game going 4 for 4.
With ace Porter Hodge on the mound, Cottonwood seemed in good shape leading 4-1, but Timpanogos showed its resiliency and put the pressure on the favorites.2 comments on this story
Luke’s timely hitting and then clutch pitching by Angeroth pushed the Colts through to the championship.
“The sixth and seventh he absolutely dominated, he was really good, and that’s what he’s been all year. I was kind of surprised he got hit the way he did when he came in, but the setting, the atmosphere we were in, he was able to calm down and make great pitches the rest of the way,” said Crawford.
After the game Crawford said this year’s team was the most humble and dedicated he’s ever coached and that made the difference in their march to the title.