Prep baseball: Bingham hits stride at perfect time
Everything, it seems, is a friendly competition on the Bingham pitching staff. Statistics tracked, charts are kept and games are played within the game.
Which pitcher has the most 0-2 counts. Which pitcher has the fewest 3-1 counts. Which one has the most quality innings, in which he retires the side in order or on fewer than 15 pitches.
"In our dugout, we have a million freshmen and other players who all do charts during the game," senior pitcher Chase Tavonatti said. "The 'Race to 0-2,' and 'First-Pitch Strikes,' stuff like that. So we definitely try to pound the [strike] zone. A lot of our success just came from throwing early strikes."
The game within the game. That competition, teamed with superior talent, helped propel the Miners last month to their second Class 5A state championship in three years and third crown since 2003.
The celebration has spilled into June and will continue, in part, this weekend at the annual Class 5A baseball All-Star game scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ogden's Lindquist Field.
Tavonatti and fellow Miners Brennon Lund and Jacob Druce will don the Bingham blue one last time, playing for the 5A South team that includes Riverton's Jared White and Tanner Draper, West Jordan's Zach Draper and Pleasant Grove's McKay Lewis and Bryce Jones, among others.
"It'll definitely be a good time," Tavonatti said. "You know you're never going to put [that uniform] on again, so you want to do as well as you can. Me and Jake and Brennon just want to represent Bingham well, and [Bingham coach Joe] Sato well."
Regardless of the outcome, Saturday's game caps a stellar season for the Miners' top pitcher and top hitter. Salt Lake Community College-bound Tavonatti went 8-1 and dominated the "quality inning" race with dominant efficiency in 47 of his 61 2/3 innings.
BYU-bound Lund hit better than .500 for the second consecutive season in the leadoff spot and also emerged as a No. 2 starter late in the season.
"Brennon very well could be drafted ... in the Major League draft," Sato said. "It's the first time I've had a kid hit better than .500 back-to-back in my years here. He is a pretty dynamic offensive player."
The Miners, who were ranked nationally when the season began, hit a few bumps along the way during the regular season. They dropped two of their first three games of the season then lost three in a row in region to Lone Peak and Region 4 champion Riverton.
But it was an 8-7 loss to American Fork on April 26 that turned around the season.
"We were down 8-4 in the bottom of the eight and ended up losing 8-7 with a couple of guys on base," Tavonatti said. "We just think, 'Miner Magic' that's been a thing since 2003 when they came back and won the state title. It kind of hit us as a team, and we haven't lost since."
Bingham did not lose again, sweeping through the state playoffs. Its 6-5 victory against Layton in the final capped an 11-game win streak and put the Miners at 22-7-1 on the season.
"In the American Fork series, things really just started coming together," Sato said. "The ball started to bounce our way. We got a lot more two-out hits and two-strike hits, and those were able to drive in runs that we didn't get earlier in the year."
Bingham won 22 games and its second state championship in three seasons last month.
Seniors Chase Tavonatti, Brennon Lund and Jacob Druce will represent Bingham on the Class 5A South roster in Saturday's baseball All-Star game in Ogden.
The Miners have won 93 games over the past four years, and at least 20 in each of the seasons.