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Prep baseball: Timpanogos beats Orem for Class 4A state title

First Published      Last Updated Jun 14 2016 02:54 pm


4A baseball » Timpanogos avenges regular-season sweep with 9-6 and 11-1 victories over Orem.

Orem • Timpanogos prides itself on playing the game correctly. The program is predicated on fundamentals and respect. The Timberwolves play small ball with huge manners.

On Friday, however, there was one exception: The players informed coach Kim Nelson that if they captured their fifth state championship in school history against neighborhood rival Orem, they'd go full Ken Griffey Jr. and flip their hats backward in celebration, typically a forbidden taboo.

After fighting from the losers' bracket, the Timberwolves staged a seventh-inning comeback to beat the Tigers 9-6 in the first game in the championship series before opening the flood gates in an 11-1 mercy-rule win in the decisive Game 2 for their first title since 2007-08.



And those hats didn't stand a chance.

"[Orem] had a great season, but this is what we worked for, and we earned it," said Brayden Millet at Brent Brown Ballpark. "That's what coach Nelson has been saying for weeks. We've earned the right to be here. We earned the right to be the champions."

If winning a state championship wasn't already satisfying, it was extra sweet for Timpanogos, which avenged a three-game sweep against the Tigers in the regular season.

"We were pretty devastated. We were 15-0 and rolling and they take three right from us," Nelson said. "It took a real big effort on their part to recover from that and get moving again. It's been a great week. I would be honest to tell you there were a couple times this week wondering if we were going to get to this day, but it all happened."

Timpanogos forced the second game dramatically in the seventh inning of Game 1, scoring four runs in the final frame after relinquishing leads of 3-0 and 5-2.

Tanner Evans quickly discovered the momentum residue in the first inning by uncorking a moonshot to the left, putting the 'Wolves up 1-0 in Game 2. After Casey Hamilton's RBI groundout in the second, Evans delivered another run-scoring double and Conner Halford followed suit with an RBI single to inflate the cushion to 4-0.

"The momentum from the first game really took us into the second game," Evans said. "He hung me a curveball and I just put a good swing on it and put it over the fence. That triggered us for the rest of the way."

Orem stole one run back in the top of the third, however, it left runners stranded at second and third and flirted with a would-be game-tying home run from Parker Wollaston, but the ball sailed foul.

From there, it was all Timpanogos.

"We wanted revenge from earlier in the season when we got swept, so that was our motivation," Tyler Cornish said.

Jake Brooksby (two-run single), Casey Hamilton (RBI fielder's choice), Cornish (RBI sac-fly), Conner Halford (sac-fly) and DJ Martinez (RBI double) collectively drove in six runs in the third inning before Hamilton's RBI single positioned sophomore ace Derik Eaquinto (2 innings, 3 strikeouts) to close the Tigers out in the fifth.

"He left the game Wednesday and his arm wasn't feeling so well," Nelson said of Eaquinto, who struggled against Woods Cross. "I thought he was done for the week. He came to us in the second inning in the first game and said, 'I want to pitch.' What can you say to a 15-year-old who doesn't know any better?"

After recording the final out, the Timberwolves erupted into celebration, but moments afterward, Millet sneaked away from the swarm and embraced a friend.

"Hat backward," he said, smiling. "It feels weird, but it's awesome."

tphibbs@sltrib.com

Twitter: @trevorphibbs

 

AT A GLANCE

Storylines

Timpanogos wins back-to-back games against Orem, 9-6 and 11-1, to capture its fifth state title in school history and first since 2007-08.

» The Timberwolves avenged a three-game sweep against the Tigers in the regular season.


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