Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
SOUTH JORDAN – In establishing the hierarchy in Region 3 baseball, this past week was a big deal. Cottonwood and Bingham each entered the week at 3-0 after sweeping their initial league series, facing a head-to-head battle for front-runner status.
By the time Friday evening arrived, the Colts had claimed bragging rights on the strength of three wins in games that could have gone either way. Cottonwood scored four runs in the home half of the fifth to win Tuesday’s game 4-1, then followed that up with a 7-5 win in a rain-shortened battle Wednesday at Bingham before closing out the week with a 6-5, nine-inning victory Friday on its home diamond.
To be honest, it wasn’t the prettiest brand of baseball either way, but the Colts did a better job capitalizing on the small openings Bingham left them and that was enough to secure a huge series sweep.
Tuesday’s game set the stage for the kind of week it was going to be for the Miners. They took the lead in the third, scoring a run after loading the based on a walk, a hit batter and a bunt single. Bingham scored on a double-play ground ball.
And the answer for Cottonwood was a four-run fifth that had a similar look and feel to the Miner scoring stanza. Hayden Cooper and Hunter Blunt singled to start the inning and then Ben Atkinson beat out an attempted sacrifice bunt for a base hit to jam the bags.
The Colts scored the fourth run on a Cam Daley base hit, but before that, they tallied three times on a bases-loaded walk and two hit batters with the bags still juiced. Wil Jensen tossed a three-hitter to make that stand up and get the week off to a good start for Cottonwood.
7-5 Cottonwood, Wednesday at Bingham
The next day, the Miners were unable to get out of their own way and that was enough to deliver Game 2 to the Colts as well. After a Jacoby Cosby one-out double put runners at second and third with one out in the Cottonwood second, Bingham southpaw Sean Keating was on the verge of escaping, but it wasn’t to be.
As he got Cooper to swing over the top of strike three, the pitch got away from his catcher, and with the runner at third base, the Miners were too late to make the throw to unoccupied first base to get the Cottonwood first baseman. Instead of dealing with the next hitter in a two-out and two-on situation, Keating faced bases loaded and no one out.
When the Bingham ace induced a foul pop-up, it was just the second out and did not get Keating out of the inning. Then, unable to get good location on his fastball on a windy, rainy day, the lefty hit a batter to force in the game’s first run. After a second run scored on a wild pitch, two more crossed the plate on an infield single off the bat of Jensen.
An errant pick-off throw to first base allowed Oliver Dunn to race all the way around to home plate n the top half of the fourth, and the Colts had Bingham in a 5-0 hole.
The Miners finally found some sort of solution to Cottonwood southpaw Jeff Borquez in the bottom of the fourth, as Chad Wilson singled in a run and Copper Hansen doubled in a run during a three-run rally that narrowed the gap. The teams traded two-run innings in the sixth, but that still left Bingham in a 7-5 hole.
Things got worse in the top half of the seventh as an error and a two-run homer off the bat of Atkinson extended the advantage, but when the rain kept coming harder and the lightning arrived, the game was called and reverted to the 7-5 final that existed at the end of the sixth.
Extra Innings Friday
Desperately needing a win to avoid the sweep when it went to Cottonwood Friday, Bingham rode the strength of run-scoring doubles from Keating and Colin Gordon and an RBI single by Matt Degn to a five-run third inning. Unfortunately, that 5-0 advantage did not stick around.
The Colts responded with two in the third, added one in the fifth and then tallied twice in the seventh to force extra innings as the Miners were unable to push any runs across outside of that third frame. Atkinson had a pair of two-baggers in those run-scoring innings for Cottonwood, but it was Cosby who delivered the game-winner, an RBI single in the bottom half of the night to clinch the 6-5 victory and a three-game advantage in Region 3 play.
Cottonwood (6-0 in Region 3, 10-3 overall) is now in the driver’s seat in league play with Brighton (1-8, 2-14) up next week. Bingham (3-3, 7-6) has work to do as four other teams are in the mix for postseason spots. The Miners next take on Taylorsville (5-4, 9-7) in a critical series next week.