Both coaches knew tha a tough game to open the playoffs lay ahead regardless of what happened in Wednesday's Copper Hills at Cottonwood baseball game.
But a little bit of momentum was at stake, and Cottonwood seized it with a 5-4 victory the third straight day that the Colts and Grizzlies were separated by a single run.
"I think it was very important for us just as a matter of confidence next week," said Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford, whose team also edged the Grizzlies 8-7 on Monday before falling 6-5 on Tuesday. "It's good to beat Copper Hills. They're a good club."
By winning the finale, Cottonwood (13-11, 8-7) wrapped up third place via a tiebreaker in Region 3 and will play the No. 2 team out of Region 4. Copper Hills (11-12, 8-7) will face the Region 4 winner.
"I don't know if it mattered in the whole grand scheme of things because who we match up with, all three of those teams [American Fork, Riverton and Bingham] are really good," Crawford said. "I call them the three-headed monster."
Things didn't begin well for Cottonwood early. The Grizzlies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a double from Jake Boyd.
Cottonwood got one back in the bottom of the first when Nate Gardner doubled in a run, but Copper Hills eventually struck for two more in the fourth to go up by three. That rally was spearheaded by singles from Tanner Johnson and Keenan Johnson.
Cottonwood's Jake Marves was hit by a pitch and teammate Jake Atkinson followed with a double in the bottom of the fourth. Both came home on consecutive sacrifice flies by Andrew Goodfellow and Dylan Cooley to reduce the Colts' deficit to one.
Cottonwood erased the deficit in the fifth when Gardner singled in Palmer Powis. The eventual winning run was a manufactured one in the bottom of the sixth when Atkinson was hit by a pitch then pitch-runner Douglas Orchard stole second, went to third on a ground out and finally scored on a wild pitch.
"We've been playing young for a long time," Copper Hills coach John Morgan said. "It's a tough hill to climb, it really is. If we could ever climb it, if we could ever put a full game together, we're a good team."