Kearns • Nearly four hours after the first pitch, Kearns sophomore Hyrum Lavatai stepped into the batters’ box with the game on his shoulders. The bases were loaded in the 11th inning with the winning run on third. As the pitcher started his wind-up, Darrell Allen broke for home. Lavatai squared to bunt and he laid it down perfectly. Allen slid safely into home to give the Cougars a 5-4 victory over Granger in 11 innings.
“It was really hard to stay focused. Everyone was screaming,” Lavatai said. “I was just thinking, ‘Get it down.’ When I heard the cheering, I was so pumped.”
In a game that neither team deserved to lose, it came down to execution. Lavatai didn’t just lay down the walk-off suicide squeeze, he also shut down the Lancers’ bats in the top half of the inning.
The Kearns pitching staff shut down Granger after it surrendered four runs in the first four innings. That allowed the Cougars’ offense to chip away at 4-0 deficit until they eventually tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Kearns had at least one runner in scoring position in each of the extra innings, but Granger managed to escape every time until Lavatai squeezed home Allen in the 11th.
“These kids are more resilient than any team I’ve coached in my five years here,” Kearns coach Dave Ballard said. “They absolutely refuse to lose. After a win like this, our confidence could take right off.”
Granger senior pitcher Henri Johnson was stalwart in defeat. Johnson pitched nine innings for the Lancers to go along with an RBI triple.
After the way these two teams played on Thursday, the rest of the series promises to be high-energy. The two teams play at Granger on Friday and they return to play at Kearns on Saturday morning.
Storylines Kearns comes on late
R Kearns defeats Granger in 11 innings on a suicide squeeze.
• Sophomore Hyrum Lavatai records the game-winning RBI and the win on the mound.
• Granger senior pitcher Henri Johnson throws nine innings and has an RBI triple in a losing effort.