4A baseball playoffs: Cornish leads the way in Timpanogos' 4-1 win over Spanish Fork

OREM — Tyler Cornish had himself a day on Wednesday — lifting Timpanogos to a 4-1 win over Spanish Fork to enter the final day of the 4A playoffs as the lone team with no losses.

The senior star did it from the mound and the plate — pitching a complete game while providing a huge three-RBI triple in the fifth inning to put the first runs of the evening on the board.

With the bases loaded, and one out, Cornish strode to the plate looking for one particular pitch, and got exactly what he wanted.

“They’d thrown me only curve balls, at that point, so I was expecting it right off the bat,” Cornish said. “I was expecting that curve ball and I just went the other way with it.”

He hit a long fly ball that landed just short of the center-field fence, allowing all three base runners to score easily — breaking open what had been all but a standstill by both teams.

“There weren’t being a lot of balls being squared up to hit well,” said Timpanogos coach Kim Nelson of the play prior to Cornish’s triple. “So you just kind of had that feeling that whoever opened up an inning defensively, that might be the difference. It turned out to be that way.”

Indeed Spanish Fork was the first to show cracks — committing two errors in the fifth to put the leadoff hitter on and then put runners on the corners with no outs. A strikeout and then a hit-by-pitch set up the situation for Cornish, and he took full advantage.

“He’s the right guy I wanted up there in that spot,” Nelson said of the third hitter in his lineup.

Tyson Heinz, who pinch-ran for Cornish, touched home one batter later, off a sacrifice fly hit by Conner Halford — giving the Timberwolves a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom half of the fifth.

Oh yeah, Cornish was also just about flawless from the mound throughout.

After incurring what can be a typical start of the game, Cornish settled down to pitch one of the better games of his career.

“The only times he’s had a struggle this year is at the start,” Nelson said. “When we got through those first couple of innings I felt he got stronger. He was in control. He was hitting spots and he was in control of the game.”

Helping out Cornish considerably was a stout defense that finished with no errors to Spanish Fork’s three.

“Defense wins championships and you’ve got to have a good defense behind you,” Cornish said. “It makes things a lot less stressful.”

With the win, Timpanogos advances to the 4A state championship, where it will have two opportunities to take home the title, as the lone remaining no-loss team in the double-elimination tournament. It’s a position the Timberwolves are used to and on which they capitalized last season.

This year has seen Nelson’s team take largely the same approach to get to the prime position entering the final day of competition.

“No matter who we’re playing they come ready to play and make progress with every game,” Nelson said of his team.

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4A baseball tournament: Spanish Fork edges out Skyridge 7-6

OREM — Relief pitching and putting on consistent pressure from the plate and the bases helped Spanish Fork edge out Skyridge 7-6 during the first of two quarterfinal 4A playoff games on Monday.

A homerun hit by the Falcons’ Brody Colledge tied things at 6-6 in the top of the fifth — prompting Spanish Fork coach Gub Nelson to bring in Brendan Bradford from right field and put him on the mound.

As is often the case, Nelson’s move worked.

Bradford finished off Skyridge — striking out 4 over 2 and 2/3 innings pitched, while allowing just one hit and one bases-on-balls. Most important was him giving up no runs, which allowed a Spanish Fork run scored in the bottom of the sixth to prove the game-winner.

“He came in just pounded and pounded the zone. He had his slider working for a strike, and that was the biggest thing for us,” Nelson said.

Bradford came in relief of sophomore lefty Cy Nielson, who incurred a rough start before settling in a bit, right before the call to the bullpen.

The Falcons jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after one half inning and then 3-1 after one half of the second. But for the Dons, they didn’t panic or even press much, having been in the same sort of situation throughout Region 8 play.

“We definitely don’t plan to do it, but our region prepares us for those type of games,” Nelson said of playing from behind and then getting by on just one run. “Our region is (very good) at baseball and every week it’s very tough and very challenging.”

Skyridge proved challenging throughout, and again threatened in the top half of the seventh by loading the bases while down 7-6 and with two outs. But again it was Bradford, this time forcing a fly-out to centerfield to end the game.

“We put these guys in tough situations at practice and I have a lot of confidence in them,” Nelson said.

From the plate, Spanish Fork put on consistent pressure in the form of 12 hits, while keeping aggressive on the bases.

“Sometimes we didn’t get that big hit, but will still put pressure on them,” Nelson said.

Leading the hitting for the Dons was Briggs Newman, who contributed four singles in his four at-bats. Brady Brook, Joshua Cowden and Taye Newman each had two RBIs.

With the win Spanish Fork advances in the no-loss bracket and will next take on Timpanogos. Skyridge bounces down to the one-loss bracket and will look to rebound against Skyline, after the loss.

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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