KEARNS — Defense has been one of Layton’s strengths all season, but in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s 5A baseball winners bracket game the Lancers committed four errors and suddenly found themselves trailing Copper Hills by two runs.
After the inning, there was no “rah, rah, shake-it-off talk” in the dugout. It wasn't necessary.
“We’re the type of team, we don’t hit the panic button. We’ve been in those situations before. We come up big when we need to and that’s what happened today,” said Layton pitcher Caleb Harrop.
The Lancers regrouped from the defensive disaster by shutting down Copper Hills the rest of the game, and after sending the contest into extra innings with a run in the seventh they scored a pair in the eighth to rally past Copper Hills for the 8-6 victory.
“The position’s great. We had that run last year, but we didn’t quite finish it and this year we’re out to finish it,” said Harrop, whose team lost to Bingham in last year’s 5A championship game.
With the victory Tuesday, Layton advances to Thursday’s winners bracket final and will face Lone Peak or Jordan at 4:30 p.m. at UVU.
The Lancers leaned on their ace all game to get them there. Harrop didn’t necessarily have his best stuff, but he was a bulldog for 7 2/3 innings, throwing 136 pitches and striking out six.
He eventually exited with two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth — with a two-one count too — but relief pitcher Pete Nielsen came on to get the ground ball and finish the game off.
“It was time for him to go,” said Layton coach Bob Ferneau about Harrop’s high pitch count. “I’ve never done that before, and hope to never do that again, but at that time I thought he was the best chance for us to win.”
Harrop came up big at the plate too, scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth after leading off with a hit batter. After Layton sacrificed Harrop to second, Quentin Marcelin reached on a walk and Braden Collingwood singled to bring Edgar Aguilar to the plate.
The junior laced a single to right, scoring Harrop and Marcelin for the 8-6 lead.
“Coaches just wanted me to get something in the outfield, and I tried to get something in the outfield and clutched up and got the job done,” said Aguilar, who finished 2 for 4 with four RBIs.
Before it could win the game in the seventh, Layton had to battle back from a 6-4 deficit after Copper Hills’ Jake Boyd hit a line-drive home run in the fourth inning.
Brady Jewell pulled a run back in the fifth with a home run of his own, and then singled home the tying run in the seventh. Layton had a chance to blow the game wide open with the bases loaded and no out, but Copper Hills got out of the jam to send the game into extra innings.
Jewell finished the game 3 for 5 with three RBIs.
Aguilar drove in a pair of runs to get things started for Layton in the first inning, as the Lancers built a 4-2 lead after the second. That lead vanished in the fourth, however, as Copper Hills took advantage of four errors to take a 6-4 lead.
Ferneau was pleased with how this team kept competing.
“I think experience was a big part. The kids never got down. They were down two and they still believed 'cause we’d been there before and I think that was a big attribute,” said Ferneau.