WASHINGTON TERRACE — Bonneville baseball coach Scott Jorgensen told senior catcher Brian Jones that he just wanted a single to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning in a 4-4 game.
But 10 minutes earlier in the dugout, Jones told a teammate Friday’s do-or-die rubber match with Stansbury wasn’t going to extra innings like the two games earlier in the week.
Jones told the teammate that the Lakers would shut Stansbury down in the top of the seventh and that he would hit a walk-off home run.
Somebody should ask Jones for advice on lottery numbers.
Jones indeed hit a walk-off solo home run, giving the Lakers a 5-4 win and prompting a wild, celebratory mob at home plate — and, crucially, giving the Lakers (11-13, 9-9 Region 11) a series win that keeps their playoff hopes alive.
Just how thin was Bonneville’s margin for error? Had Stansbury won, the Lakers’ season would’ve been over.
Instead, they held their nerve in a chippy, fiery series finale.
“I’ll credit that to the seniors. They did a good job of keeping us together as a team and keeping it like a family. It really is a great job of leadership by the seniors and the coaches,” Jones said.
Both teams traded runs and words, at one point prompting the field judge to point at both a Bonneville and Stansbury player to get them to knock off the trash talk.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Colby Taylor, Aiden Taylor and Joey Morgan provided consecutive base hits to turn Bonneville’s 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead.
Stansbury tied the game in the sixth and Will Toller pitched Bonneville out of a jam in the top of the seventh to set up Jones in the bottom half.
With the count at 2-0 and facing a new pitcher, Jones swung and hit a high fly ball that scraped the sky and landed over the left-field fence.
“I like an aggressive approach with no strikes, what can I say?” Jones said.
The Lakers’ regular-season work is done. But the Stallions aren’t, and that’s important.
Stansbury (13-11, 9-8) plays Park City on Monday. A win means the Stallions qualify for the playoffs and Bonneville does not.
But if they lose, Bonneville gets a first-round playoff trip Saturday to St. George to face either a loaded, two-time defending state champion Dixie team, or an equally loaded Desert Hills team.
Region 11’s tiebreaker rules work differently than in other regions. For example, if two teams in Regions 1 or 5 tie for fourth place, they contest a play-in game for the final playoff berth no matter the previous head-to-head results.
If two Region 11 teams are tied for fourth at the end of the year, they go only on head-to-head. It’s how Bonneville missed the playoffs last year in lieu of Ogden.