Cyprus had a chance to send shock waves throughout the 4A prep baseball ranks had the Pirates won their sixth consecutive Region 3 contest by beating a top-name foe. But all good things must come to an end, as Taylorsville snapped Cyprus' win streak with a 5-1 victory Tuesday afternoon.
The Warriors, who pretty much have had their way and their say not only in Region 3 but in the 4A state playoffs in recent years, remain undefeated with a 8-0 league mark. Pitcher Jeff Leatherwood remains undefeated, too, upping his mark to 4-0 in a four-hit, six-strikeout outing.
"We did some things enough to beat other teams, but not them," said Cyprus Coach Bob Fratto.
Really, the game could have been and should have been a pitchers' duel between Leatherwood and Cyprus' Brad Rammell, who in seven innings allowed only six hits while striking out eight. In fact, were it not for the Warriors' four-running second inning, the Pirates played their first-place opponents pretty much even.
Ah, yes, Taylorsville's four-run second inning. Guy Mackay singled and scored on an RBI double by Mike VanRy, who subsequently scored from third on a wild patch. Then Barr Hill added an RBI single and Leatherwood brought another Warrior baserunner in on a fielder's choice. Three hits, four runs, enough of a lead for Taylorsville.
Those big innings by opponents have been a big stumbling block so far for Cyprus, which started league play this season with a three-loss skid before winning five straight going into Tuesday's game. Included in the recent Pirate triumphs were victories over Skyline and Granger - another pair contending with Cyprus to try and catch the Warriors.
But another big inning lead to another Pirate loss - just like a five-run inning in an earlier 7-0 loss to Taylorsville, and four-run innings in 5-3 and 8-1 losses to Skyline and Granger, respectively.
"We've had one bad inning in the games that we lost," said Fratto, his voice starting to trail off. " Other than that . . . ."
Other than that, the Pirates could be better than their 5-4 league mark and making moves to solidify a state-playoff berth.
Even so, Cyprus was enough of a worry for the Warriors, with Coach Ron Rushton citing the win streak, a well-restedRammell, and a talented team. "I expected them to be pretty good this year," said Rushton, saying the Pirates' play of late was anything but surprising.
Leatherwood was strong at the start and at the finish, only allowing the Pirates' hits in the fourth and fifth innings. Cyprus got on the scoreboard when Scott Eyre walked with one out in the fourth and stayed on second on a Taylorsville miscue on a double-play opportunity. "We got a little anxious to turn two when we should hve gotten the lead runner at second," said Rushton.
Eyre later scored on a single by Will Forster, and when Rammell followed with a single of his own, Cyprus should have been threating with the bases loaded with still only one out - but a baserunning boo-boo resulted when a Pirate overran second and was run down with third base already occupied.