OREM — Cottonwood’s quiet bats picked the perfect time to finally erupt.
Pitching and timely late-inning hitting had been the story of Cottonwood’s first four 5A playoff games as it won with just 10 combined runs.
The Colts got the perfect mix of pitching and hitting in Friday’s 5A championship at UVU though as they rolled past Lone Peak 11-0 in just five innings to capture the school’s first baseball title since it won four straight from 2005 to 2008.
“We just kept waiting for the team that we know can hit to come out, and they picked a great day to do it,” said Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford.
Cottonwood pounded out nine hits and benefitted from six Lone Peak errors as it eventually chased Lone Peak ace Seth Corry out of the game early in the third.
On paper, the 5A championship had all the makings of a great pitchers duel as Cottonwood trotted out its own ace in Washington State commit Hayden Rosenkrantz. He was in a groove from the first pitch.
He allowed only four base runners all game and just two hits in those five innings, recording five strikeouts. Getting out of the first inning unscathed against Lone Peak’s potent lineup was important, Crawford acknowledged.
“I was nervous facing their lineup, to get a zero in the first inning was huge. Kind of set the tone for the day,” said Crawford.
Rosenkrantz had Lone Peak’s hitters off-balanced every time they stepped into the batter’s box and dealt the Knights their first shutout of the season.
“I was able to locate in and out with my fastball and get ahead early with my curveball, and just fed off that the whole game,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, my whole life I’ve been thinking of pitching in a state championship game and today that came true, and to come out on top, that’s nothing better.”
At the plate, Cottonwood scored in all four innings including a big six-run third as it effectively put the game out of reach.
The Colts built a 1-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly by Christopher Rowan then stretched the lead to 3-0 in the second on a Jeff Borquez RBI groundout and Hunter Blunt’s double to center.
The third inning was a perfect storm of hitting and Lone Peak miscues — four total in the third.
Rowan opened the third with a walk and scored on a Hunter Heugly bloop single to center. Daniel Gonzalez ripped a triple off the left field wall to push the lead to 5-0, and then quickly scored on a throwing error to third to make it a 6-0 lead.
Gonzalez’s inclusion in the starting lineup was a boost for the Colts.
“Daniel was in our starting lineup at the beginning of the year, but running to class he broke his hand right before the Bingham series,” said Crawford.
Gonzalez got his cast off last week, and after making a pinch-hit appearance for Cottonwood in Wednesday’s win over Bingham, Crawford decided to insert him into the lineup.
Like nearly all of his teammates, he delivered in the big third inning.
Cottonwood’s next two batters reached on an error and single and, with no outs, Crawford elected to play a little small ball as he had Hunter Cornia bunt the runners over to second and third.
Borquez followed with a two-run single to center to push the lead to 8-0 and Blunt’s RBI sacrifice fly put Cottonwood ahead 9-0 after three innings.
“Just kept the momentum going, one guy got on, just kept it rolling. Hitting is contagious,” said Heugly.
In the fourth, Manuel and Cornia each drove in another run to give Cottonwood the 11-0 lead and ensure it wrapped up the 5A title a couple innings early after Rosenkrantz forced three straight fly outs to end the game.
“After we put up that six in the third inning we started playing loose, we started having fun. The whole game was fun today,” said Rosenkrantz.
Borquez finished the game with three RBI for Cottonwood, with Blunt and Heugly both going 2 for 3.