Bingham High's Matt Maynard said he wasn't surprised that coach Brad Bevan had him try to score an inside-the-park homer to beat Pleasant Grove, 11-10, in the state 4A baseball tournament Wednesday night.
"I saw the kid (centerfielder Dan Norman) miss the ball, and I thought he (Bevan) might send me," Maynard said. "I went in headfirst and the catcher just dropped the ball."That's a fairly non-dramatic description of a memorable finish.
In a game worthy of the last two teams in the winners' bracket of this tourney, the Miners and Vikings battled each other for three hours on a field made slippery by a pre-game thundershower.
In the top of the seventh inning, it was tied 9-9 with Pleasant Grove at the plate. Bingham's third pitcher of the evening, sophomore Barry Fullmer, started the inning by walking Glen Montgomery and hitting Eric Johnsen with a pitch. Out came Bevan, out came Fullmer, and in came another sophomore, Jason Jensen.
Shane Smith walked to load the bases, and Montgomery scored on Mark Norman's ground out. Jensen then got out of the inning, but the Miners trailed by one. And although the top of their order was due up, the Miners' first three batters had managed just two singles against Viking starter Johnsen. Bingham hadn't had a hit since the fourth inning.
Miner leadoff batter Nate Tebbs struck out swinging, and Dusty Stauffer flied to left. Two outs, Chad Newman at the plate. With two strikes, Newman poked a late-swing blooper that fell just out of the reach of diving second baseman Nick Dorick and skipped past rightfielder Gage Hansen. Newman was safe at second.
Maynard, the Miners' cleanup hitter, stepped to the plate, already two-for-three on the night. "I just wanted to hit the ball hard," he said. And he did, rifling a shot to left-center that Norman dove for and missed. Newman scored to tie it, and Bevan gambled, sending Maynard home.
Why? "Wet ball," the coach said. "I knew it would be tough for them to make two good throws, and I figured if the ball bounced on the way to the plate he had a good chance to score."
The victory leaves the Miners as the only undefeated team in the tourney, and facing Brighton at 7 p.m. Thursday at Ken Price Park. For Bingham, the biggest challenge may be finding someone who can still throw. Asked who would be his starter against the Bengals, Bevan said, "I'm going to have to get a blessing to come up with that one." He's used seven pitchers in three games this week, and two pitchers have appeared twice each. That's not all that unusual for this team, however - the Miners' roster includes 15 pitchers.
Pleasant Grove next faces Region 4 rival American Fork, 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Ken Price Park.
In other games Wednesday:
American Fork 13, Viewmont 2: American Fork's Tyler Eastman limited the Vikings to five hits over five innings as the Cavemen won a shortened game by virtue of the 10-run rule. Jared Hutchings homered for the Cavemen, who pounded out 13 hits.
Brighton 14, Cyprus 10: The Bengals put together a 10-run first inning, then held off Cyprus to eliminate the Pirates from the tourney. The first nine Bengal batters of the game reached base, two on infield errors, two on walks and five on hits, including a three-run homer by Willie Mosher. Jared Snell was the winning pitcher.