KEARNS — After a soggy afternoon on Monday, Cyprus and Westlake couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to play postseason baseball at one of the state's most picturesque stadiums at Kearns High. The two teams fought out a defensive slugfest for the most part until Walker Nicholes of Cyprus hit a bases-clearing triple to put the game out of reach in the final inning as the Pirates went on to defeat the Thunder 5-1.
Westlake forced the issue early in the first inning following a double by starting pitcher Jamin Van Sickle. Catcher Bronson Butcher hit a single and Van Sickle was waved around third but was thrown out easily for the first out of the inning. The Thunder recorded two hits, a walk and loaded the bases only to come up empty.
Pirates starting pitcher Parker Loutensock struggled early but would eventually settle in and find his grove to go along with stellar defensive play from his teammates.
"I couldn't find my stuff really. I was out in front and I just couldn't find it. I threw a little bit last night so my arm was kind of sore but I just tried to fight through. I just kept throwing outside and was able to keep them off balance and it worked out," Loutensock said.
"Coach has said when I'm on the mound he feels like we'll get a win cause they trust me. I trust them (the defense) with my life too. Every time I'm on the mound I know they'll back me up and make plays."
Cyprus head coach Bob Fratto noticed right away that Loutensock didn't have his best stuff.
"To be honest, I was kind of worried about his mental makeup. His body language really, I don't know if it was because he had to throw a little bit last night. I'll be honest, I don't think he was feeling too good most of the day," Fratto said.
"That's a good hitting team from what I've seen most of the year. They've got some guys that can really swing it, so it was a great job by him to battle through."
Fratto wasn't worried about sounding cliche after the win and was genuinely happy to be moving on.
"I keep reading the paper and everybody says the same thing. Live to play another day, and we're happy to be there and we'll work hard and get after it. I've liked our attitude since the Mountain View game, we were a little flat there and give them credit, they totally outplayed us. But we've been on point since then," Fratto said.
"This is fun, it's supposed to be a game, isn't it? Live to play another day."
The Pirates will indeed live to play another day, Wednesday at 4 p.m. to be exact. Cyprus will take on the loser of the Timpanogos vs. Maple Mountain game at Kearns High.
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