KEARNS With the bases loaded and the game tied in the bottom of the seventh inning, Taylorsville's Nic Johnston didn't even have to swing his bat to be the hero against Cyprus.
He just had to have some patience.
Johnston was credited with the game-winning RBI when he was walked with the bases loaded to give the Warriors a 5-4 win over Cyprus on Wednesday night. The win puts Taylorsville in the driver's seat in the American Legion state tournament. It gives the team a bye today, and guarantees that it will be playing on Saturday, the final day of the tourney.
Johnston's staying patient in his final at-bat was no small feat. He's an aggressive hitter who has been blasting opposing pitchers throughout the state tournament. It wasn't easy for him to wait for a good pitch in Wednesday's winners' bracket final.
"The pressure was all on him (Cyprus pitcher Clint Trutzel), so it made it pretty easy," Johnston said. "I had to be real patient."
Johnston's walk provided an anti-climactic ending to what was a superbly played game. There were three ties in the game, and the lead changed hands three times. Cyprus took a 2-0 lead in the first when Zak Kilpatrick hit a two-run double. But Taylorsville quickly answered with a two-run homer by Austin Maddy and an RBI single by Scott Shipley.
Kilpatrick added another RBI in the third to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead. Shipley tied the game with an RBI infield single.
Jeff Pratt, Taylorsville's closer, entered the game in the fifth and kept Cyprus off the scoreboard. He cruised until the seventh, when the Pirates loaded the bases with one out. Cyprus couldn't have asked for a better situation to be in with star player Taylor Jones at the plate with one out. Pratt and Jones battled until there was a full count, and Pratt got the better of the duel with a strikeout.
Jones missed a pitch Pratt painted on the outside corner.
"I just reared back and threw it with everything I had," Pratt said. "Luckily, it went my way. He's a good hitter."
Pratt isn't the biggest kid on the Warriors' roster, and he rarely throws more than an inning. But he's a competitor, and extremely tough to score on in clutch situations. He got Kilpatrick to ground out to end the top of the seventh.
"He likes those big situations," said Taylorsville coach Jackson Ewing. "He's sneaky fast. He's not real big, but all of the sudden the ball zips in there."
Taylorsville didn't record an out in the bottom of the seventh. Zane Pulver led off with an infield single and then stole second base. Pratt and Maddy then reached base before Johnston was walked to end the game.
In the other games on Wednesday:
BLACKSMITH FORK 9, SMITHFIELD 2: The game was called in the fifth when an Aztecs player was ejected and they had less than nine players left to compete. Derek Pond and Jeff Schiffman each drove in two runs for Blacksmith Fork.
TOOELE 8, KEARNS 2: Zac Clausing and Chase Banks drove in runs in the fifth to help Tooele pull away. Stewart Christensen threw a complete game for Tooele, and Matt Gochis hit a home run.
SPARTANS 16, CEDAR CITY 6: Eric Wood hit a walk-off, two-run homer to end the game in six innings. Wood was also the game's winning pitcher.
At Oquirrh Park
Kearns Tooele vs. Spartans, 5 p.m.
Blacksmith Fork vs. Cyprus, 8 p.m.
Taylorsville vs. Tooele/Spartans winner, 7 p.m.