6A baseball: Pioneers weather storm, Corner Canyon's 2-game rally for title

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OREM — The Lehi Pioneers didn't arrive at UCCU Ballpark with a 1-0 lead in the 6A championship series expecting to still be there at nearly 10 p.m. Saturday.

But life doesn't always go as expected.

Mays Madsen went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, and Caleb Crutchfield pitched 3.1 innings, allowing just two hits with seven strikeouts, to help Lehi rally from a Game 2 loss to hold off Corner Canyon 7-5 in the winner-take-all Game 3 for the Pioneers' second title in three years.

Ozzie Williams went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored in the nightcap, and Cole Ybarra was 2-for-2 with two RBIs as Lehi (23-10) overcame the dreaded "if-necessary game" and a series of weather delays to win a championship in head coach Erik Madsen's first season of high school baseball since resigning as head coach at Utah Valley University.

But they did it with the grit of their previous coach, Jason Ingersoll, who led them to the 5A state championship in 2022 before resigning following the 2023 season.

"These guys are just competitive; we preached that all year," said Madsen, who won more than 300 games at UVU before resigning midseason in 2021. "Jason Ingersoll brought that into this program, and it's pretty easy just to stand here and take accolades for what he really brought to the program originally.

"They just have that mindset that they're not going to quit. They'll quit when somebody tells them it's over, and that's it. They're good boys."

Added Mays Madsen, his son and star shortstop: "Just the whole tournament, we kept getting down but we never gave up. Through all seven innings, that's us; we're the little scrappy guys who never give up and work seven innings. We just come back, and we're hard workers. No one believed in us, but now we're hoisting that trophy."

After Corner Canyon forced a third game with a 5-3 win, the Chargers took control of the winner-take-all finale when Garrett Downing drove in two runs with a triple and came home on Ryder Florence's next at-bat during a three-run fourth to go in front, 5-3.

But the Pioneers weren't ready to go away.

Ybarra drove in Madsen to pull one back for Lehi. After the Chargers held serve in the fifth, magic happened in the sixth.

That's when Ybarra drew a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, tying the game before Brandon Manookin swung hard in his next at-bat and gave the Pioneers a two-run lead before the final frame that Crutchfield finished with three consecutive strikeouts.

"We kind of came out in that first game thinking we were alright, and this was ours. But they punched us in the mouth," Mays Madsen said. "We knew we had to actually start working here.

"They're a good Corner Canyon team — no one believed in them, either, and they came out smoking us," he added. "It's super hard in back-to-back games to stay locked into everyone. We were here at the field for about eight hours today — but we never gave up. That's what's the best about this team."

Downing finished 3-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, and Florence was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Corner Canyon (20-14).

Corner Canyon’s Kash Koncar trips over Lehi’s 
Tanner Heaps while trying to catch the ball in the second game for the 6A high school baseball state championship at the UCCU Ballpark in Orem on Saturday, May 25, 2024.
Corner Canyon’s Kash Koncar trips over Lehi’s Tanner Heaps while trying to catch the ball in the second game for the 6A high school baseball state championship at the UCCU Ballpark in Orem on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

Game 2: Chargers force winner-take-all finale with 5-3 win

At UCCU Ballpark, Nathan Horstmann went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and Andrew Nice allowed three runs on three hits with four strikeouts and five walks as Corner Canyon took the second game of the best-of-three championship series 5-3.

Corner Canyon (20-13) scored five runs on just two hits in the first two innings, taking advantage of five walks and a hit batsman to take a 5-0 lead.

The Chargers poured in four runs on two hits in the second inning, highlighted by a bases-loaded, two-run blast by Horstman and a solo shot by Rylan Dunn in his first of two at-bats in the inning.

Mays Madsen pulled one back for the Pioneers (22-10), coming home on a sacrifice fly after a leadoff double in the fourth inning. The junior with a .447 batting average added another with a two-out RBI single in the seventh that cut Lehi's deficit to two, but Boston Draculitch grounded into the final out as the Chargers forced the winner-take-all final game of the 2024 season.


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