WOODS CROSS — In this grand ol' game called baseball, few things are more exhilarating or unforgettable than an emotion-charged, two-out rally.
And on Friday afternoon, the Woods Cross High School baseball team staged one for the ages.
Trailing visiting Cyprus 7-3 entering the sixth inning, the Wildcats staged a six-run outburst — scoring the final five of those runs with two outs — to pull out a dramatic 9-8 Region 6 victory over the Pirates.
"I just gave it up to my kids — six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, five of them with two outs," said Woods Cross coach Paul Ayala. "The funny thing is, we've been struggling with runners in scoring position. But today we finally go ahead and jump on it. "I had to tip my hat to the kids today; I said 'That was your win. I just stood over there (in the third-base coaching box) and you guys had to come back and win this one on your own.' "
And win it they did — thanks to that gritty two-out rally. Junior infielder Tyler Hardie started things off in the sixth, as he hammered a solo home run over the left-field fence to cut the Wildcats' deficit to 7-4. But when the next two Woods Cross batters got out, the Pirates were just one out away from ending the inning and only four outs away from winning the game.
Then Justin Barber reached base on an error, and Kyle Rogers and Shane Busdicker each drew walks to load the bases. Up stepped junior outfielder Jake Brown, who already had a perfect 3-for-3 day going at the plate. On his fourth at-bat, he battled back from an 0-2 count and ripped a two-run single to center field to make it 7-6.
"As a leadoff hitter, I've really got to start the game off right," said Brown, who also smacked a solo home run and a run-scoring double, finishing with four hits and four RBIs. "And when you go 4-for-4 and come up with big hits like that, it really gets your team going, gets the dugout going and gets everyone behind each other."
After Brown's clutch hit pulled the 'Cats within a run, Kyle Peay tied it at 7 with a critical run-scoring single of his own to right field. Then after Brady Cowley walked, Hardie came up for the second time in the inning and promptly lined a single over the shortstop's head, bringing home two more runs to give the Wildcats a 9-7 lead.
"That was a good feeling," said Hardie, who went 3-for-4 and had all three of his RBIs in the Wildcats' decisive sixth-inning rally, including the first home run of his high school career. "It was a perfect time to hit it. It was a good way to get the team going."
After Cyprus loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, Josh Hunt came on to pitch for the Wildcats and got a forceout at home and a run-scoring groundout that made it 9-8 with two outs. Then, with the potential tying run at third, Cowley, the Woods Cross catcher, caught a Cyprus base runner trying to steal second, and Hardie ran him back toward first and tagged him out to end it.
"We've had a lot of comebacks this year," Hardie said. "Some games we start out good and let teams back in it and then we come back, and games that start off slow like today, and we come back and win those games, too. We've had a lot of comebacks this year — that's what we do."
Peay had two hits and scored twice, while Brown and Busdicker also scored a pair of runs apiece and Cowley also contributed an RBI single for Woods Cross, which leapfrogged over Cyprus into second place in Region 6 at 5-2 and 9-7 overall with the win.
Walker Nicholes and Brady Gallegos each had two hits, an RBI and scored two runs apiece for Cyprus (5-3, 11-7), and Coy Skiby smacked a two-run single for the Pirates. "It was a pretty awesome thing in a really big game like this one; it was pretty sweet," Brown said of the Wildcats' stirring comeback win. "Coming off that loss to Bountiful (on Thursday), we just wanted to get everybody back on a positive note. "The pitchers had a rough go (10 walks, two balks, two hit batters and a run-scoring wild pitch), but they can't win every game for us. So that's on us hitters to come up for them when they can't produce like that, and the defense, too. We've got to capitalize on everything that comes our way, and we did just that today."
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