Friday’s 5A state baseball title game at UCCU Ballpark at UVU could have been described as pitting the classic opposites of the irresistible force and the immovable object.
On the one hand there was the surging Timpanogos offense that had tallied a staggering 32 runs in the last three games (10.7 runs per game).
Coming from the opposite direction was unbeaten Cottonwood, which hadn’t allowed any team in the playoffs to score more than one run.
Which would give?
The answer turned out to be both as the Timberwolves scored more than twice as many runs on the Colts (5) as the other four tournament opponents did combined (2) – but it turned out to be not quite enough.
Cottonwood answered a big Timpanogos surge with a pair of key runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, holding on to edge the T’Wolves, 6-5, and win the 5A title.
“Obviously it was a hard game to lose,” Timpanogos head coach Kim Nelson said. “I’m proud of the way that again we got behind but found a way to battle and scratch and claw. We gave ourselves some chances. That’s a good ball club to try to overcome. I’m proud of them. That’s a great way to finish the year.”
The Timberwolves had hung tough but the Colts had gotten a spark with a solo home run over the left-field fence by right fielder Dylan Reiser.
Cottonwood scored three big runs to go up 4-1 – a deficit no team had been able to come back from during the tournament.
The Timpanogos hitters, however, refused to be phased.
The T’Wolves came right back with a big inning in the top of the fifth, all of which came after the Colts turned a double play for the first two outs.
But Timpanogos right fielder Gabe Sweeten walked, then center fielder Tyson Heinz hit a single. Shortstop Davis Kirby kept things rolling with an RBI single to score the first Timberwolf run of the frame.
The designated visiting team was just getting started. Third baseman Carter Wilde was hit by a pitch to load the bases, then first baseman Preston Richards stepped at the cleanup spot and drove in two more runs with a hard-hit single to tie the game.
Timpanogos then turned to second baseman Ethan Hixson, who had been fantastic at the plate all week, and he tacked on another RBI single to put Timpanogos in front.
Nelson said he wasn’t at all surprised to see how his team performed after falling behind.
“They responded that way the whole year,” Nelson said.
But this time Cottonwood answered as well. The Colts scored the game-tying and game-winning runs on a 2-RBI double from left fielder Jason Luke in the bottom of the fifth.
Timpanogos couldn’t find a way to get another runner on base in the final two innings and Cottonwood got to celebrate winning the title.
“We were one win — maybe two wins — short,” Nelson said. “From where we were and what we did this week, we’re going to get away from this in a few days and be really proud of what we did.”
The Timberwolves were led at the plate by Heinz (2-for-4, 1 RBI) and Richards (2-for-4, 2 RBI).
Nelson said right after the game that his players were certainly hurting but that he felt like they would have good memories from the 2019 5A state tournament.
“It’s going to hurt but we are going to look back and realize it was cool, it was fun to be part of,” Nelson said. “It’s hard to see them as sad as they are but that’s part of what sports is.”
Nelson believes that the Timberwolves had a lot of successes but said he loves how the different age groups work hard to maintain the expectations of the program.
“Our seniors can certainly take from it that all the hard work is worth it,” Nelson said. “The younger kids who got the chance to play in there a little bit got a feel for what that is like. I think one thing that has been good in our program is perpetuating from year to year what needs to be done. I’m proud of the way these kids did that.”