Orem • Cottonwood baseball coach Jason Crawford woke up Friday morning wondering what he would remember about his senior-laden team 10 years from now.
Words such as humble, resilient, hard-working and diligent filled his mind.
Here’s another one: Champions.
Getting clutch hitting from the bottom of its batting order and and big-time pitching from seniors Porter Hodge and Carson Angeroth, Cottonwood upended the tournament Cinderella, Timpanogos, 6-5 to claim its second Class 5A baseball championship in three years at soggy UCCU Ballpark on the campus of Utah Valley University.
“From Sept. 1 when we started this season, until now, I never one time had to get after them about their work ethic, their desire to want to compete,” Crawford said. “This was their goal, to win the state championship. And I couldn’t be happier for them.”
Timpanogos, which was just above a .500 team before getting hot in the tournament and watching veteran coach Kim Nelson work his magic once again, needed to beat the Colts twice to take the title because Cottonwood won the first matchup 4-1 on Monday.
For most of Friday morning’s game, the Timberwolves looked like they were going to force the “if-neccessary” game. They took a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth when Kirby Davis, Paxton Richards and Ethan Hixson drove in runs.
Then Cottonwood rallied.
Preston Bird was hit by a pitch and No. 8 hitter Dylan Reiser, who had homered in the fourth, added a two-out single. Up stepped No. 9 hitter Jason Luke, a senior who began the season in the two-hole but willingly accepted a drop in the batting order.
COTTONWOOD 6, TIMPANOGOS 5
• The Colts go undefeated in the double-elimination tournament and win their second title in three years, eighth overall
• Senior Jason Luke drives in the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out double
• Reliever Carson Angeroth holds Timpanogos scoreless in the final two innings and picks up the win on the mound
Luke lined a shot down the left-field line that was just out of the reach of Krew Erickson’s diving attempt, and Bird and Reiser scored the tying and go-ahead runs.
“I was watching it a little bit,” Luke said. “I’m not going to lie. I just had to run hard, pray hard [that it fell]. “It was an 0-0 pitch, low and away, and I just went with it.”
Luke also doubled in the fourth, after Reiser’s homer, and scored on Hunter Cornia’s sacrifice bunt. Dalton Hodge went 4-for-4 and drove in a run. Angeroth closed the door in relief of Porter Hodge by not allowing a base runner in the final two innings.
“We’re brothers,” Angeroth said of the Colts. “These guys, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for these guys, and I know there is nothing they wouldn’t do for me. That trust and faith in each other to get the job done allows us to stay calm under pressure and succeed in any situation.”
In the dugout after the game, Crawford shared a long hug with former Cottonwood coach Jon Hoover, who turned the Salt Lake Valley school into a dynasty a decade ago.
“He was here for the last one we won [in 2017] and he was the coach when Cottonwood was in its prime,” Crawford said. “I just got emotional hugging him, because I really looked up to him.”
Every Colt in the lineup reached base at least once; Cade Perkins, Daniel Gonzales and Andy Gonzales added hits and stellar defensive plays, and Sinjun Johnson was solid behind the plate.
“I spent the last four years with these 13 other seniors and the rest of the guys here,” Luke said. “I was honored to play with these guys every day. So it means everything to win with them.”
And call themselves champions, again.