On the final day of the Class 5A state baseball tournament, the Taylorsville Warriors looked fresh.
They were knocking out hits, they were playing solid defense, their pitchers were throwing hard. Was this really a team that had played five games in four days?
It was. And the group of self-described “blue-collar” Warriors nearly pulled off the most spectacular of comebacks. They pushed American Fork to a second game and fell only an inning short of winning it all after fighting through the one-loss bracket.
But that’s not the thing that gives Tribune Coach of the Year Jake Brown the most pride.
“I’m not really sure what people were expecting, but we set high expectations for ourselves,” he says. “We proved that we belonged — that we were as good as we thought we were.”
Taylorsville has one of the most storied histories of any baseball program in the state, but in Brown’s first year, that success was firmly left in history. The Warriors clawed to a 7-14 record in 2010, a rebuilding in progress.
But in his tenure at the program, Brown has implanted a system founded on outworking opponents. With that as his standard, he began to see improvement. This year was the first time Taylorsville captured a region title since 2008.
Even when the Warriors took a thrashing at the hands of Alta in the second round, Brown came back at his team with a message that they could keep coming back.
“He told us to focus on our game, and not worry about anyone else,” senior Dallas Carroll says. “Even after the loss, we felt confident. And it carried us through the week.”
Brown also expertly managed his pitching, finding star performers in unexpected places. Taylorsville ended up beating every quarterfinal team — Jordan, Bingham, Alta and American Fork — at least once on its run. With that success, Brown hopes tradition will start flowing through the program once again.
“When we lost, you saw guys crying, and that paints a picture of where we were at,” he says. “We fully expected to win. We are back as a program. A championship is not a pipe dream.”