WEST JORDAN — Cottonwood senior Daniel Gonzalez knew the importance of his last at-bat on Thursday.
His team was down a run and had just three outs to avoid an elimination game. If the Colts could pull off the late comeback, they’d be in prime position to hoist their second championship in three years.
It was up to him to get the rally started. He did just that.
Gonzalez connected on an 0-2 pitch, sending it into the alley in left field for a triple.
A triple that sparked a two-run seventh inning to give Cottonwood a 2-1 win over Jordan in the 6A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College’s Cate Field.
“The last three weeks, he has been absolutely on fire,” Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford said. “He’s been the guy that’s kind of stepped up. He’s made a bunch of big plays offensively and defensively. He’s been huge for us.”
No play was bigger than that triple — especially with the way that Jordan’s Jacob Shaver had pitched. Through six innings, Shaver had given up just two hits and Cottonwood hadn’t ever truly threatened to score a run.
One hit changed that.
“I was waiting for a curveball and he threw me a curve ball right in the middle,” Gonzalez said. “And I was like, ‘I’m going to hammer this.’”
Cottonwood loaded the bases via a hit-by-pitch and an intentional walk, so when Jason Luke smashed a ball to second that scored Gonzalez and tied the game. Cade Perkins finished off the rally by getting enough contact for the Colts to score the game-winning run.
“Shaver competed his tail off,” Crawford said. “We were just able to get a little luck on our side that inning. To win a state championship you have to get to that point, you have to get some luck.”
Shaver wasn’t the only who pitched a gem on Thursday.
Cottonwood pitcher Ross Dunn has a no-hitter going into the sixth inning and had struck out eight on the day. Hunter Swapp got the first Jordan hit of the game and then scored the Beetdiggers’ only run when he scored from second with some heads up base running on a fielder’s choice.
Outside of that though, Dunn shut Jordan down.
“He was pretty much lights out,” Crawford said. “That was a really good effort. Probably one of his best outings this year against a really good offensive team. To pitch that well against that good of a team says a lot about his performance today.”
Cottonwood will play Timpanogos on Friday at 10 a.m. for the state title. If the Colts lose, a winner-take-all championship final will be contested Saturday morning at UVU.
“I’m so excited,” said Gonzalez, who was born in Cuba before having to go to Colombia and Mexico before arriving in the United States. “I came to Utah to play baseball. In ‘17, I won a state championship. And I want to do it again.”
Timpanogos 8, Jordan 4
At SLCC, the Timberwolves did all the scoring they needed with a five-run third and cruised to the win over Jordan in the one-loss bracket final.
Timpanogos pushed through the elimination bracket with a 6-1 win over Corner Canyon and an 18-0 win over Skyridge before eliminating the Beetdiggers with their second loss of the day.