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High school baseball: Timpanogos dethrones Lehi, earns 5A state title

The final series of the 5A state tournament went the distance Saturday evening, with No. 2 Timpanogos getting the best of No. 4 Lehi 8-1 at UVU, giving the Timberwolves their first state title since 2017 and stopping the Pioneers from what would have been back-to-back state championships.

It marks the ninth time Timpanogos head coach Kim Nelson has won it all (two at American Fork and seven at Timpanogos), but it never gets old for the longtime head coach.

“It’s the best one,” Nelson said of his latest championship. “That’s all I’ve got to say. It’s the best one right now. That’s it.”

The day did not start out how it finished for the best team in 5A though.

Down a game in the best-of-three series, Lehi beat Timpanogos in the afternoon to force a third and final contest before the Timberwolves ultimately walked away with the title trophy in tow.

In the last game of the season, Timpanogos made it look like the second-to-last contest never happened, scoring the first six runs before Lehi earned its lone run in the sixth inning on a solo shot from senior first baseman Jackson Brousseau.

“I think in most all those innings we got the first guy of the inning on base and it just kind of helped that motion to go,” Nelson said.

That continual motion helped the Timberwolves cycle through their batting order to the tune of 10 hits compared to the Pioneers’ five.

Timpanogos backed up its good play at the plate with arguably even better play in the field. The Timberwolves’ fielders gobbled up nearly everything that was hit their way, making big plays on multiple occasions to keep Lehi from getting in any kind of rhythm offensively.

Junior pitcher Chase Riggs threw the entire contest for the Timberwolves and gave up just one hit through the first three innings.

Still, he praised his teammates’ efforts in the field.

“(I) just trusted the defense out there,” Riggs said. “We have the best defense in the state. It made it easy.

“I have to throw strikes. They’re going to make plays. I just trusted them behind me and that’s what happened.”

The Timberwolves’ trust in each other helped them end the championship series the way they started it. The team took Game 1 Friday, giving itself two shots at winning one contest for the state championship.

However, Lehi soon erased Timpanogos’ 1-0 game lead, never trailing in the schools’ second meeting of the weekend and securing an 8-7 victory to set up the winner-take-all matchup.

Both teams scored all their runs in the first five innings Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers responded all three times the Timberwolves tied the game by retaking the lead when they got back up to bat.

Lehi senior designated hitter Ashton Holbrook broke the third tie with a home run over left field to leadoff the fifth inning.

The Pioneers added one more run and held on from there, giving them their second win over Timpanogos this year.

The Region 8 foes met three times in early April, with Timpanogos taking care of Lehi in two of those three matchups.

Though the stakes were much higher Saturday, the Timberwolves got the same result: a 2-1 series victory.

After the initial loss Saturday, Timpanogos had to regroup.

“It wasn’t the end,” Nelson said, “I think (we) sensed that. Sure, it was hard to handle but they got right back into it. It was good.”

The Timberwolves turned to each other and made the most of their second opportunity at the state title.

“One thing that I’ve always been impressed with before (our players) get to go out on the field … there’s a prayer and after it they get together and it’s brothers,” Nelson said. “It’s been brothers the whole last half of the year … I feel it. It’s just gratifying to be part of it.”

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