OGDEN — There’s no true consensus on where Brian Jones’ home run landed Thursday.
The only consensus was that once the Bonneville High senior catcher got ahold of the pitch, everyone knew it was gone just by its sound off the bat and by the Ogden left fielder’s reaction. He took two steps back and realized, yeah, this one’s over the fence.
That pitch became a three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning of the Lakers’ 11-1 win at Ogden. The homer had no definitive say in the game’s outcome, which was pretty much decided by a five-run fourth inning that turned a 1-1 tie into a 6-1 lead.
But it was icing on the cake for a player who’s had a fair share of bumps and bruises this season, as well as a Bonneville (6-10, 4-6 Region 11) squad that can still contend for a Region 11 playoff spot with a strong finish to the season.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit, kind of the same thing as last year with just a couple of small miscues that don’t go our way. We flip those around, that’s a couple more runs and we win a game,” Jones said. “It felt good to come out here to get the job done.”
Boston Baur scored on a wild pitch in the top of the first to give the Lakers a 1-0 lead. Ogden followed in the bottom half of the inning with three consecutive two-out singles, scoring a run when Phil Ruhnke barely beat a throw to first. Ruhnke ended the day with two base hits.
Things went off the rails for the Tigers (2-12, 2-9) in the top of the fourth. Bonneville scored on another wild pitch, then pitcher Joey Morgan helped himself with a two-run single.
Jones, who ended 2 for 3 with four RBIs and a walk at the plate, added an RBI single to shallow right-center field before another run came across on a wild pitch.
What was a 1-1 game with a fair share of missed chances for both sides was now 6-1.
“We came out here with some energy, some confidence that we were going to win the game and, well, we did,” Jones said.
Ogden started the next frame with a single and a walk before Jones threw a runner out at first base. The Tigers then loaded the bases but left them that way.
Bonneville third baseman Spencer Hildebrand came a few feet away from a line-drive homer when his RBI double in the fifth hit the left-field fence.
That was just one of Hildebrand’s highlights for the day: in the first, he made a nice defensive play at third base to get an out. In the bottom of the fifth, he dove and caught Matt Garceau’s sharply hit line drive at third base, got up and threw a runner out at first base for a double play.
“Last year against Matt ... I did the exact same thing: I caught a line drive and I got the kid out at first,” said Hildebrand, who walked twice and reached on an error, reaching base in all four plate appearances.
The only difference with this year’s double play was that the umpires initially call the runner safe at first base.
Upon discussion they reversed the call, prompting an “Are you kidding me?!” from Ogden coach Lars Birkeland, who appeared to discuss the call with the field judge calmly but was subsequently ejected.
Bonneville’s Payton Freer hit an RBI double in the seventh before Jones’ homer. The win was a welcome sight for a team that lost its first six region games, including three by two runs or less, before sweeping Ben Lomond two weeks ago.
“It’s a huge series. I figure we’ve got to win six of nine of the rest of (our games), so this was a good start for us to get this and see what we can do tomorrow,” Bonneville head coach Scott Jorgensen said.
Jorgensen credited a solid all-around team effort for the win. Morgan had a good pitching performance for the second straight game, the Lakers were smart on the base paths and got their bats rolling at the right time.
If current form holds in the region, the final playoff spot may come down to the Bonneville-Stansbury series in two weeks since the Stallions are now 3-6 in the region after a Thursday loss.
But first, a Friday doubleheader between these same teams at Bonneville. Last year’s series between the two clubs ultimately paved the way for Ogden’s playoff appearance and it looks like this year’s series may play a big role in a postseason berth as well.