The strikeouts in the Taylorsville fans' "K" corner were adding up for T-Ville starter Zach Barnard - one and two in the first. Three, four and five in the second, and six, seven and eight the third.
Despite the eight strikeouts, the Warriors trailed Hillcrest by four early, but Barnard allowed just four token Husky hits in the final five innings as the Warriors posted a 9-4 come-from-behind victory in the 5A state baseball championships Wednesday at Serge B. Simmons Field.Barnard's line: a school-record 15 strikeouts, while giving up ten hits and just two walks in recording the complete-game victory.
"When I struggle out there I see them put them (the K's) up and everyone cheers for me, it gets me pumped up," Barnard said of the "K" corner crew.
Barnard, who saw limited action as the Warriors third starter behind Brandon Lyon and Jeff Stone because of a pulled left shoulder muscle, said Wednesday's win was more than just a win over the Huskies.
"Everything came together after the pulled muscle in the shoulder," he said. "I haven't done much (because of the injury), but it makes me feel good that I still have it."
With the victory, the Warriors earn an automatic bid to the state title game. A win over Highland tonight at 7 p.m. will mean the Warriors would have to lose twice to lose the title. A loss would force a one-game title matchup, with either Highland, Hillcrest or Alta. Alta, an 8-3 winner over Skyline Wednesday, takes on Hillcrest at 4:30 p.m. in a loser out contest.
The Huskies got an RBI double by Adam Castleton and an RBI single by Ryan Flox in the first inning, and a two-run double by Russ Morrell in the second inning to explode to the 4-0 lead after an inning and a half, but that's all Barnard would allow the remainder of the way.
Justin Muramoto, who finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI, got an RBI double in the bottom of the second and Rocky Elsasser added an sacrifice for two of T-Ville's three runs in the second to trim the lead to 4-3.
After Trent Swallow scored earlier in the third inning, Lyon delivered what was the game-winning RBI single to score J.P. Candelaria, who walked, to take the lead for good at 5-4.
The Warriors picked up two more runs in the fourth, but according to Taylorsville coach Steve Cramblitt, it was the two runs in the fifth that made the difference. One came on a Lyon solo homer and the other was manufactured.
"We needed another run. That run was important at that stage - a grand slam doesn't beat you with this wind," Cramblitt said.
Hillcrest threatned in the every inning after the second except the fifth, only to see Barnard come up with big ground outs and strikeouts to halt all threats.
On the day, Barnard struck out the side in the second, third, and sixth innings en route striking out eight different Hillcrest hitters.
Behind Muramoto, Swallow had two hits for the Warriors, while Morrell had three hits for Hillcrest. He and Flox were the only Hillcrest hitters not to strikeout against Barnard.
In other action:
Alta 8, Skyline 3: Bart Sharp went 3-for-3 with three RBI and Lance Jensen, Matt Lawson and Jared Colton all had two hits each as the Hawks eliminated Skyline. Bryson Ostler had a homer for Skyline.
Highland 8, Brighton 5: Luke Geddes went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI and teammate Gavin Van Wagoner went 2-for-4 with two RBI as the Rams held off Brighton. Riley Nichols had a two-run homer for the Bengals.