It's not so much a changing of the guard as it is a statement of East's fortunes of late in prep baseball, as the Leopards downed the 1988 4A state titlist Bountiful Braves 10-1 in Region 4 prep baseball action Friday afternoon.
Lanky lefthander Mark Wankier tossed a two-hitter and struck out 15 as East blasted the Braves. It was expected to be a pitchers duel as Wankier faced BYU-bound Bountiful pitcher Jim Larson, who himself struck out seven in four-plus innings of work while picking up his first loss of the season.For the Leopards, the runs came in bunches - four in the second, five in the fifth. Conversely, most of the Braves' untimely errors were committed during thesame times.
And what about the state of Bountiful baseball after the Braves suffered their first loss in six Region 4 contests? "We're bad right now," said Bountiful Coach Phil Olsen, mindful that many miscues only made matters worse for his team. "We're terrible - that's all I can say. We don't belong where we are right now."
Where the Braves are right now really doesn't change - at least for the time being. As the defending state champion, Bountiful still remains 4A's favorite target as well as the ongoing favorite in Region 4.
But now the Leopards can lay claim to not only a shared spot in first place with the Braves but another boastful best that neither Bountiful nor any other league counterpart can match - a five-game winning streak in the region regular season.
East started the league slate with an embarrassing 8-2 loss at Bountiful several weeks ago. "We didn't seem up for that game," recalled Wankier.
Friday against the Braves, Wankier was one of those "pretty good players." In addition to his 15-strikeout, two-hit performance, he ran his region record to 3-0 and dropped his total earned-run average to just 1.05 - three runs in his last 20 innings.
Need another hero with accompanying highlights? How about East shortstop Jason Young, who smacked a long two-run triple to right-center in the second inning and then added a two-run smash over third base in the fifth.
Bountiful's moments were few and far between Friday. The Braves loaded the bases in the second, but only one run came in as Mike Bearnson scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Parrish.
Parrish had the sole hit off Wankier through the first six innings, only to become the first out of a double play later in the inning. Larson then got he second Bountiful hit on a deep grounder to third in the seventh.
Roy 2, Layton 1
The Royals completed a two-win week by edging the Lancers with a two-run sixth inning Friday, with Danny McFarland scoring on a wild throw and Mark Bingham following later on a fielder's choice. Roy improves to 4-2 in league play, while Layton is even at 3-3.
Cyprus 2, Skyline 0
Pirate pitcher Scott Eyre pitched a shutout after coming off a pair of one-hitters, with the junior aiding his own cause by driving in a run in the first inning. Mark Gallegos had the other RBI in the final inning, as Cyprus won its fifth straight after losing their first three Region 3 games.
Brighton 7, Orem 3
Jason Ayala picked up the Region 2 win for the 8-1 Bengals as Brighton broke open a 1-1 game with three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Kearns 5, Cottonwood 4
The Cougars needed Jared Fernandez's dual heroics - 15 strikeouts and a game-winning RBI in the eighth inning - for the Region 3 victory. Lance Somerville batted in two runs as Kearns scored twice in the seventh to force the extra inning.