Class 5A baseball: It takes an extra game, but Jordan earns state title
Orem • The Jordan Beetdiggers didn't head into Friday wanting to play two games, but winning a state championship was certainly on the agenda.
In the end, Jordan did both.
Winning its second state baseball title in school history, Jordan (25-5) beat Pleasant Grove 4-3 at Utah Valley University to capture the crown. Earlier in the day, by the same score, the Vikings had forced the Beetdiggers into another game to decide the double-elimination state tournament.
"All that matters, in the end, is that we got the job done. We would've liked to get it done in one game," said Jordan senior Drew Lisk. "It took two, but we finished."
Lisk had one of three crucial hits in Jordan's three-run third inning in the deciding game. In a 1-1 tie, Mason Krueger smacked a solo homer over the right field fence to open the frame. Then, after an error and an opposite-field double from Cale Hathaway, Lisk hit a single to center to score two more runs.
Pleasant Grove (23-10) crept closer, thanks to a two-run triple from Chase Merrell, to push the margin back to one run in the bottom of the third. But Beetdiggers pitcher Morgan Gomez kept the Vikings at bay by throwing shutout ball over the last four innings.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pleasant Grove nearly tied it on a deep blast from Payton Henry. However, the ball hit off the top of the right-field fence, and Henry settled for standing on second with a two-out double, hoping the next batter could bring him home.
But the championship was clinched when Gomez induced a grounder from Jade Smoot and made the final out himself, covering first and receiving the ball from first baseman Mason Hayes.
"It felt amazing, how everything was accomplished with that play," said the left-handed pitcher who is referred to as "Lefty Gomez" by teammates.
"I felt confident going out there. I knew my teammates were going to get the job done," Gomez said of pitching the seventh while a large group of Pleasant Grove fans noisily stood in hopes of a rally. "I loved it. I loved every second of it actually embraced it. I didn't want to shut [the opposing fans] out."
In the first game, the Vikings thwarted Jordan's first attempt to win the title when Henry hit a double to right-center to score two runs in the fifth. That made the score 4-3 and Easton Walker, the PG starter, along with relievers Smoot and Henry kept the Beetdiggers off the board the rest of the way.
Pleasant Grove had lost its first game of the 5A tourney, to Viewmont, before winning seven straight do-or-die contests.
"They fought right to the end. If that ball [by Henry] goes six more inches up in the air, we might have something else happen," Vikings coach Chad Fife said. "I don't think anyone here in this state can take away what we did. That showed just tons of heart."
Jordan also won the 5A baseball crown in 2007 when Fife was an assistant coach.
"Our school is 107 years old, and this is our second one," Fife said.
Jordan 4, Pleasant Grove 3
R The championship is just Jordan's second baseball crown in 107 years of school history, but its second since 2007.
• A three-run third inning in the deciding game is opened by a solo shot from Mason Krueger and followed by a two-run single from Drew Lisk.