BRIGHAM CITY Shortly after he allowed Box Elder to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh with an uncharacteristic error, Cyprus first baseman Taylor Jones got a shot at redemption.
Not a good scenario for the Bees.
Jones' second home run of the game sparked the Pirates to a 10-9 win over Box Elder in eight innings in the second round of the 4A state tournament on Wednesday afternoon. Cyprus advances to play Dixie in the winners' bracket semifinals on Tuesday, while the Bees now face the unenviable task of trying to advance through the one-loss bracket on Monday.
Box Elder tied the game at 8-8 when Kasey Jeppsen hit a ground ball toward Jones. The ball hit a lip on the edge of the grass infield just as Jones was set to field it, and it bounced to his left, allowing a run to score. With two outs in the seventh, the Pirates were on the verge of closing out the win, but Jones' misplay forced them to work a little harder for the victory.
Jones quickly made up for it. He led off the eighth with his second monstrous home run of the game, giving the Pirates a 9-8 lead. He said the error he committed wasn't weighing on his mind when it was his turn to hit. Instead, he thought about what went right at the plate when he smashed a three-run home run in the fifth that gave the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
"I came up with the same approach," Jones said. "I tried to get my team fired up, tried to get them rolling. I put a good swing on the ball."
Following Jones' second blast, Cyprus junior Josh Hansen gave his team an insurance run with an RBI-double.
That extra run would come in handy in what was a wild game that saw the momentum constantly changing. There were six lead changes and the game was tied five times. No fan, player or coach from either side had the luxury of feeling comfortable until the game finally ended after more than three hours of play.
Hansen, who pitched well after relieving starter Dexter Fisher, walked consecutive batters with one out in the eighth. That brought in sophomore George Thomas, who recorded the second out of the inning, and allowed a run to score on the same pitch. He ended the game with a strikeout of Box Elder's Matt McArthur.
The Pirates and coach Bob Fratto were very complimentary of the Bees after beating the Region 5 champions on their own tattered field.
"I understand why they won their league," Fratto said. "Those were two teams that just refused to quit. It's the old Bull Durham cliche, but it was a bad game for someone to lose."
Although Jones provided the big hits, the Pirates couldn't have prevailed without a complete team effort. Austin Pollock went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, and made some difficult catches in center field. Austin Shakespear was solid in right field, as he doubled up a runner at second after making a catch in the second inning, and robbed Jeppsen of a single when he threw him out from right in the fifth.
The Pirates rallied from a two-run deficit in the seventh. Pollock blooped a two-run single into left field to tie the game, and Jordan Ikari put Cyprus ahead with an RBI single to right field.
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