Juab’s baseball team edged out Provo in a game for the record books on Saturday night in St. George. Juab won on a walk-off hit by Dalin Ludlow after the teams had combined to score a state-record 57 runs, throw for 460 pitches, and played for well over four hours.
This instant classic, a 29-28 Juab victory, started an hour before the first pitch when the two coaches met for a coin flip to decide which team would get to act as the home team. Juab coach Brett Ludlow had a great strategy for it, he asked if the tournament director was going to let it fall or if he was going to catch it. They let it fall and Ludlow called tails.
“It trickled up against the wall and flips over on tails and the stage was set right then,” said Provo coach Lance Moore.
Both teams had played two games on Friday and were scheduled to play two on Saturday as part of the Buck’s Ace Invitational at Crimson Cliffs High School. Juab had picked up a pair of wins already, including a victory over Springville earlier that morning. Meanwhile Provo was set to take on Crimson Cliffs later that night — a game which started an hour late because of this marathon.
Provo took advantage of getting up to bat first, Cole Mason hit a lead-off home run to score the first run of the game and the teams were off and running. The Bulldogs would go on to score three runs in the top of the first inning before Juab tied it up after one.
Immediately, both coaches knew they were going to be in a high-scoring affair. There was a strong wind heading away from home field pushing fly balls into home runs. That combined with little pitching — because pitchers were used in prior games and from inexperience after last year’s season was canceled because of COVID-19 — as well as a tight strike zone from the home plate umpire led to lots of opportunities to get players across home plate.
The first big swing of the game came in the bottom of the third inning. Down 8-3, Juab’s Tryker Greenhalgh got on base and then Wyatt Payton hit a home run to get things rolling. Five batters later Dalin Ludlow pushed the ball to the outfield, resulting in a three-run triple to bring the crowd to its feet. Within just a few minutes a five-run deficit had flipped to a seven-run lead for the Wasps.
Another four runs in the fourth inning put Juab comfortably ahead 19-8.
Provo found itself needing two runs to avoid a mercy rule finish in the top of the fifth inning, and boy did it deliver, scoring 13.
Ty Lamb came to the plate and found himself quickly facing an 0-2 count. He gathered himself, found a base hit and the comeback was on. A few batters later Juab had a chance to pull off a double play, but an error going the other way led to some runs and still zero outs. Eventually the batting order circled around back to senior Kaden Gingras for his second at-bat of the inning. He knocked the ball out of the park, a grand slam to tie the game 19-19, just minutes after trailing by double-digits.
Before the half-inning was over, Provo had claim to a two-run lead, 21-19.
Crimson Cliffs coach Justin Abbott was at the game, preparing for his team’s matchup against Provo on their home field. It felt like more and more fans were showing up, people in the press box were trying to figure out if they were going to get to 50 or even 60 runs and who was going to win.
“Every call, every ball and every strike was heightened dramatically,” said Abbott.
Juab added three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning before another seven combined runs were scored in the sixth inning, setting up a tie game, 25-25, heading into the final frame.
In talking about one of the more unique games of his career, Moore brought up that he had been involved in a game back in 2003 where Provo lost to Spanish Fork by a score of 1-0 in an 18-innings marathon.
“You always hear people say I’ve seen it all, but I really have seen it all. I have coached the lowest scoring game and now the highest scoring game in Utah history,” said Moore.
The top of the seventh inning featured a great performance from the Bulldogs’ bottom third of the batting order.
Kampton Fuller found a way to battle for his third walk in three plate appearances and Provo put three runs up on the board by the middle part of the frame. That is when they put Matt Rhineer on the mound, their only other consistent pitcher who ended up starting the Crimson Cliffs game later that night.
Needing at least three runs to tie the game, Greenhalgh was set to lead off yet another big inning. His single, followed by two more singles and a walk, were able to cut the lead to 28-26 with still zero outs.
Jaxton Adams’ two-run single tied the game 28-28. A few batters later, Ludlow hit a deep shot to center field for his fifth hit and seventh RBI of the night. This allowed Easton Warren to score the 57th and final run of the game, giving his team a 29-28 victory.
Alex Jackson was the winning pitcher despite it being his first time pitching in a competitive game in over half of a decade.
The 57 runs eclipsed the previous state record in the UHSAA records of 50 runs, in a game between Tooele and Grantsville back in 1950. Tooele won 43-7.
Provo bounced back and played a really competitive game against Crimson Cliffs, narrowly losing 8-6 before getting on the bus and heading back home after a four-game weekend in St. George.
Moore was really impressed with how Rhineer bounced back from his relief pitching performance in the Juab loss with a strong five-inning outing against Crimson Cliffs. He credited the whole team for its mentality after a difficult loss.
“It would have been really easy for them to go into that final game knowing how depleted our pitching rotation is and knowing that it is 9 p.m. and we are gonna leave for home at midnight, but we fought and played another really cool game as well,” said Moore.
Both teams got back home in the early hours of Sunday morning after long drives, reflecting on the history they had been a part of.
“It was exciting to be a part of. It puts into perspective what sports is all about, going through adversity and success and adversity and success. It teaches our athletes that no matter how hard things get there is always a way to score a 29th run,” said Brett Ludlow.
On a night with many offensive stars, Juab lead was led by lead-off hitter Dalin Ludlow who went 5 for 7 with 7 RBI, while Payton went 4 for 6 with 6 RBI.
Provo lead-off hitter Mason went 4 for 6 with 6 RBI, with Alex Martinez and Gingras each had five RBI.