It was a familiar scene. Taylorsville manager Barry Sceili holding the winners' trophy above his head and following with an emotional acceptance speech. Plans being made for a trip to the regionals. Sceili's players carting off with the biggest and best of the awards.
Nothing new around here.Sunday night at Ken Price Park, Taylorsville routed Brighton 15-1 to win the state American Legion baseball championship. The victory marked Sceili's and Taylorsville's third championship in seven years. In that time he has finished second three other times.
He's getting as familiar Walter Cronkite.
The title game was as undramatic as it was convincing. It was all over in the first inning. But just to make sure, Taylorsville dotted all its i's and crossed its t's by chalking up another 11 runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Any questions? Class dismissed.
Taylorsville moves on to play in the regionals Wednesday morning against the Arizona state champion. The win marked Taylorsville's second straight title and the first time in the '80s that a team has repeated.
"This never gets old," mused pitcher Jeff Leatherwood. "We'll take this as long as we can."
Nobody's guessing just how long that might be.
Sunday's game was one that would not have been staged, had it not been for a particularly determined effort by Brighton. Taylorsville could have wrapped it up on Saturday, but Brighton tagged the westside team with a 10-7 loss. That set up Sunday's finale.
"I heard someone call Saturday night's game a fluke," said Sceili gravely. "That was no fluke, it's that simple. They kicked our butts."
But by the time Sunday rolled around, though, it was clearly a mismatch. Brighton manager Clark Burt had a team full of weary arms. He started with left-hander Chad Erickson, but Erickson only managed to last one inning before being relieved by Chris Tengler. Tengler was the most successful, staying into the sixth, but the rocky fifth and sixth innings left Brighton hopelessly behind and cost Tengler his spot on the mound.
Meanwhile, Sceili went with right-hander Leatherwood, who had been resting his arm since he pitched in Tuesday's game. Leatherwood even stayed clear of playing at his customary third-base spot on Saturday, just to stay fresh.
He allowed only three hits and a solitary run, that coming in the second inning when he handed over a double to Chris Seegmiller and an RBI single to Bruce Burt.
Although Sceili knew he had more depth and playoff experience, he took extra caution, even cutting batting practice in half so he could give his team a speech about adversity. "That's all we talked about," said Sceili. "I told them that you're not champions if you can't overcome adversity. You can't appreciate it if it comes easy, and this didn't come easy?"
Well, at least not until Sunday.
Taylorsville ran off six straight hits in the first inning to account for the first four runs of the game. Steve Woolley drove in two of his four runs on the night with a single to key that inning.
In the fifth the foundation began to crumble. Woolley drove a two-run homer out of the park and Mike Brown doubled in two more. The other run in the fifth crossed the plate on a bases-loaded walk.
In the sixth Brighton brought on two more relievers, but Taylorsville opened the floodgates, tallying six runs. Galen Evans and Nic DeLuca drove in two runs apiece to lead the way.
In the top of the seventh Leatherwood put Brighton down in order, thanks in part to a fine leaping catch by DeLuca, who was named the tourney's MVP (see accompanying story.) He joined three other Taylorsville players who were honored with awards. The game was called under the nine-run rule after 6 1/2 innings.
"We came into the game tonight on top of the world," said DeLuca.
And they left in the same place.