Class 5A baseball: Jordan's bats lift team to title berth
Orem • The aluminum ping echoed around the field as the ball sent into the sky by first baseman Mason Hayes sailed over the right field fence. This was the final blow, a two-run shot that sent Jordan High School to a 9-2 victory over Layton and the Class 5A baseball state championship game.
Jordan rolled throughout the afternoon of Thursday's winners' bracket final, keeping Layton off-balance and spraying 11 hits all over the park at Utah Valley University. Layton, however, looked anemic offensively and overmatched on the mound, recording more errors (three) than runs and walking eight between pitchers Jayden Berenson, Hunter Evans and Porter McNeely.
The scoring started early for Jordan after three straight walks from Berenson loaded the bases in the bottom of the first. A single by senior Morgan Gomez brought one home, with another crossing home plate after senior Christian Bailey hit a single of his own.
Layton got creative in the top of the third to manufacture a run. Senior Frankie Aguilar drew a walk, advanced on a bunt and moved to third on a botched pickoff try by Jordan pitcher Jacob Dirkson before finally scoring on a fielder's choice.
At that point, the score looked close at 2-1, but Layton's bats went cold. Meanwhile, Berenson looked increasingly rattled, forced into long innings by a Jordan team willing to battle at the plate and plagued by pitches that would float just left of the strike zone.
"They knew they had to battle. This is a big, big win," said Jordan coach Chad Fife. "The middle to the back of our order is what picked us up and carried us to get us going. The early part of our order finished it in the big inning."
That "big" inning came in the bottom of the fifth when a hit-by-pitch, a double and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Jordan. Senior outfielder Cale Hathaway smacked a double to the fence, clearing the bases. Hayes' two-run homer came directly afterward, giving Jordan a 9-2 advantage.
Layton had a chance a half inning earlier to inch closer when the deficit was only 4-1, bringing one home on a triple by senior Preston Day to keep the score within two. However, Day was stranded on third after two straight strikeouts by Dirkson, ending the inning.
"He's making a name for himself. He's had two weeks rest, so if his curveballs worked, we knew he'd give us a good performance," Fife said.
Pleasant Grove later defeated Layton 12-0 in the losers' bracket final, and will get a shot at Jordan on Friday for the 5A title.
Hathaway said it's a relief to be heading to the championship, with Jordan taking its destiny into its own hands and its own bats.
"Everyone has been giving us their best shot because we are the one seed. So it's nice to finally be into the championship," he said.
At Utah Valley University
Winners' bracket final
• Jordan 9, Layton 2
Losers' bracket final
• Pleasant Grove 12, Layton 0
• Jordan vs. Pleasant Grove, 1:30 p.m.
• Rematch, if necessary, either 20 minutes after first game or 8 p.m.
Jordan 9, Layton 2
R Jordan scores five of its nine runs in the fifth inning to secure a 9-2 win.
• Layton finishes with more errors (three) than runs (two) in the game.
• Jordan pitcher Jacob Dirkson pitches the game on two weeks rest.