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High school baseball: Keegan Nitta's double tops off a remarkable Lone Peak 9-8 win over Bingham

HIGHLAND — Lone Peak's Keegan Nitta hadn't exactly been a hot hitter when he strode to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning on Friday, with his team down 8-7 versus Bingham. Complicating matters was the 0-2 count he faced with runners on first and second base and two outs, although the junior catcher felt confident and had a good mindset.

"Honestly, I just wanted to stay short on the baseball and just get good contact," Nitta said. "I knew I was down in the count but kept confident, believing if I just made contact that good things would happen."

A good thing did indeed happen, with Nitta roping a shot to left field that fell just short of clearing the fence. Both runners easily scored to complete a remarkable and necessary 9-8 comeback win that sent the Knight players into understandable jubilant celebration in an important region matchup.

"It was an emotional ball game and a really big win for us. We needed this one," said Lone Peak coach Jeremy Berg. "Bingham is obviously a really great team, and they got us for the first two games this week. You don't want to get swept, so yeah, we're grateful to get this one. Any win in this region you're grateful for."

As for Nitta getting the game-winning hit, you might say he was due.

"I don't know exactly how long it's been, but I think he's gone hitless in his last 12 at-bats," Berg said. "So it was a huge moment for him to do that for us and to do it for himself. He was a starting middle linebacker on the state championship football team, so he's the guy you want in that situation. He knows how to come up big and you saw that. He's a big-time guy."

Nitta's heroics topped off a remarkable comeback effort that saw the Knights go down 6-1 after four innings and 8-2 through the top half of the sixth. The Miners' lead was built on solid play from the defending state champions, sure, but also aided by several fielding mistakes by the Knights and otherwise sloppy play.

"We were just plain bad through five innings. No question," Berg said. "We couldn't do much of anything right out there, which helped make this such a great comeback win. The guys just didn't quit, and that tells a lot about the type of players they are."

Lone Peak's comeback began in the bottom half the sixth inning with Trey Gambill's bloop shot to short right field just finding enough space to find ground in front of three charging defenders. The result was two runs scored to top off a three-run inning effort to cut the Miners' lead to 8-5.

A Ryder Christensen RBI single led off the scoring in the bottom of the seventh inning before an error allowed the Knights' second run to score, cutting Bingham's lead to 8-7. All of it set up Nitta and what proved to be the game-winning hit for a big Region 4 win.

"Every win in this region is big and losing three straight to Bingham would have really put us in sort of a hole," Nitta said. "So I'm just so happy we stuck with it and pulled through. It was a complete team effort."

The win raises Lone Peak into a tie for third place in Region 4 with Bingham leading up to next week's big series versus American Fork. Bingham will have its own big series taking on region-leading Pleasant Grove for a three game set.