Orem • The ball trickled into center field, and Bingham's Braxton McKee raced home with the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
Somehow, you just knew the Class 5A state championship eventually would be decided this way Friday. Bingham's 6-5 victory will be recorded as another example of the Miners' classic, fundamental style of baseball earning the school a 21st title – and just as accurately, a case of Layton's throwing it all away.
The Lancers may have outplayed their opponents offensively, but six errors conveniently contrasted with Bingham's crisp performance in the field.
That's Bingham's game. Generations of Miners have been playing baseball the right way and winning championships in this state for 81 years now. Layton competed gamely, needing a victory to force a true title game in the double-elimination format, but it could not protect a 5-3 lead at Utah Valley University.
Bingham coach Joey Sato likes to emphasize that each team writes its own chapter of Bingham history, while claiming not to even keep track of his own coaching achievements. He's well aware of the school's tradition and knows what baseball once meant to a mining community in the southwest Salt Lake Valley.
“It started a long time ago, way before I got here,” he said. “We just want to keep the traditions alive.”
Tears welled in his eyes as he spoke. Nobody takes winning harder than Sato, a Bingham alumnus. His players keep wringing the emotion out of a coach who gives them all the credit.
“Tough kids, huh?” he said.
Sato's four titles (since 1999) as Bingham's coach moved him to No. 2 on the school's all-time list, behind only the legendary Bailey Santisteven, who won 11 championships in the 1930s, '40s and '50s.
The story of the 2013 Miners features more of the usual Bingham stuff: These guys were not overwhelming at the plate, but they pitched well, played good defense and found ways to score enough runs.
Layton hardly made it easy for Bingham. But the Lancers ultimately wasted Quentin Marcelin's three-run homer, Caleb Harrop's two-run double and Dexter Paiz's solid pitching with their lousy defense.
The Miners obviously did their part, as well.
“That's what you've got to do in big games; you've got to take advantage of errors,” McKee said.
Bingham's Jacob Druce delivered a two-out RBI single that tied the game in the sixth. The Miners' other runs in the decisive inning came via a wild pitch and the throwing error.
Bingham had not allowed more than three runs in any of its previous four tournament victories, and it seemed in good shape with a 3-0 lead in the fifth. The Lancers, who battled their way back through the losers bracket after Tuesday's loss to Riverton, stormed ahead with the big hits from Marcelin and Harrop. But their lead did not last, thanks to more of the defensive issues that bothered them all day.
McKee sprinted home when the catcher's throw to second skipped into center field for Layton's sixth error.
That may not have been the most memorable way to win a state championship, but it should be said that Bingham's aggressive, double-steal attempt forced Layton's mistake. That's the kind of thing the Miners have been doing almost forever.
Layton simply lost to a better baseball team, but there's no doubt that nearly a century of success played into Bingham's latest championship.
“A tradition of excellence,” McKee said. “It's incredible to compare ourselves with some of the early Bingham state titles. I'm just proud to be a part of it.”
Mining for gold
Bingham leads the state with 21 championships in baseball.
Year • Coach
1932 • Bailey Santisteven
1933 • Bailey Santisteven
1934 • Bailey Santisteven
1935 • Bailey Santisteven
1939 • Bailey Santisteven
1940 • Bailey Santisteven
1942 • Bailey Santisteven
1947 • Bailey Santisteven
1950 • Bailey Santisteven
1952 • Bailey Santisteven
1954 • Bailey Santisteven
1955 • Bailey Santisteven
1974 • Sonny Sudbury
1975 • Sonny Sudbury
1976 • Sonny Sudbury
1984 • Brad Bevan
1985 • Brad Bevan
1999 • Joey Sato
2003 • Joey Sato
2011 • Joey Sato
2013 • Joey Sato