OREM — Cottonwood outfielder Jason Luke isn’t your typical No. 9 hitter.
The senior was a .410 hitter for most of the season for the Colts. But when Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford approached the 5-foot-8, 150-pound slugger about moving into the bottom of the order, he didn’t object or even skip a beat.
“He’s the epitome of what we try to have in our program, and we are really excited he gets to end his career on top,” Crawford said of Luke.
And he was in the perfect position Friday morning for the Colts.
Luke went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI, including the game-winner in the bottom of the fifth inning, to help Cottonwood to its second Class 5A state baseball title in three seasons with a 6-5 victory over Timpanogos at UCCU Ballpark at Utah Valley University.
Dylan Reiser went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored for the Colts (25-3), and teammate Dalton Hodge was 4-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored.
“That’s our order,” said Luke, whose team pounded out 14 hits off Timpanogos hurlers Carter Wilde, Carson Hawkes and Tyson Heinz. “We’re one-through-nine; we’re going to all hit. We have a super deep team, and we aren’t going to give up any at-bats, no matter who is in.”
With the win, the Colts clinched their eighth baseball, tied for the seventh most in school history and the second in Crawford’s tenure that followed the retirement of legendary coach Jon Hoover.
Tyson Heinz went 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a stolen base to lead the Timberwolves (18-13), and Paxton Richards was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Heinz plated Ky Decker from third with an RBI single in the top of the third to open the scoring for Timpanogos, giving the Timberwolves an early 1-0 lead.
But the Colts tied it up in the next frame, when Porter Hodge smacked a double to shallow right field that allowed to Dalton Hodge to score from third on a throwing error. Timpanogos never led for more than a half inning, as Cottonwood responded to each run.
“They played really well, really tough,” Crawford said of the Timberwolves. “But it showed a lot of toughness on our part to get down, come back, get down again.”
Reiser’s solo shot over the left-field fence in the fourth started a rally, ending with three runs for a 4-1 lead that held until Paxton Richards’ two-run single tied the game as part of a four-run fifth. Luke gave the lead back to the Colts, plating two with a standup double off a fastball low-and-away that drifted into the corner of left field for the final margin.
Cottonwood’s defense did the rest, including a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the fifth and relief pitcher Carson Angeroth, who fanned two over the final three frames to collect the win.
But even he admits that the deep lineup was key to the win.
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for these guys, and I know there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for me,” said Angeroth, who also earned the win in Cottonwood's 2-1 winner's bracket final win over Jordanjust 24 hours previous. “As a pitcher, having a lineup so deep gives you so much freedom. I feel like we can give up any amount of runs and we can come up.
“People think pitching is defense, but knowing that you have that offense behind you helps.”
With chants of "Cottonwood's back" emanating from the mass of teenagers, the Colts' head coach embraced his mentor Hoover in the dugout as emotion rolled over him and his staff.
This wasn't Crawford's first title — and it might not be his last, with a bevy of talented juniors and sophomores. But it is special.
“From Sept. 1 when we started until now, I never had to get after them for their work ethic or their desire to compete,” Crawford said. “This is the only team I’ve ever coached where I never had to get after them for a single day.
“It’s the best group I’ve ever been around. They are great kids.”