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.