EAST MANATEE -- With extra lighting pouring down on the field at Braden River High School and towering cherry-pickers loaded with cameras peering down at the emptying baseball diamond, Tyler Dyson's Braden River teammates plotted while the pitcher placed a headset over his cap for a postgame interview.
"We don't have a pie or anything?" one asked as Dyson broke down his complete game against Lakewood Ranch. Moments later, the Florida-bound senior was coated in flour. A turning point for the Pirates season has taken place this week and with Bright House Sports Network broadcasting Wednesday's 9-1 win against the rival Mustangs, BRHS has delivered on a big stage.
"It was a lot of fun," Dyson said. "These are the most fun games. They're right down the street. I've been playing against these guys since I was little, so it's a great rivalry to be in. I love it. I love the emotion with it."
The Pirates (9-3) are playing Ranch (9-5) three times this week, and with the blowout win BRHS is guaranteed to take at least two of three. A day after winning in extra innings at Lakewood Ranch High School, Braden River's offense kept chugging and Dyson held the Mustangs without an earned run.
Dyson pitched all seven innings for the Pirates, surrendering four hits an and unearned run. He struck out seven batters and walked none. At the plate, Dyson singled during each of his first two at-bats to drive in runs and finished 2 for 4.
BRHS concludes its three-game series with Ranch on Friday at home.
"If you've got a big game like this against our rival on live television there's no other guy we'd want out there," Braden River head coach Craig Page said. "He was ready for it the whole day. He pitched his butt off and did a fantastic job for us."
After surrendering a lead-off double to Lakewood Ranch outfielder Trevor Losada to start the game, Dyson cruised. He didn't allow another extra-base hit and faced the minimum in four of the final six innings. In 27 innings this season, Dyson (3-0) has allowed only eight hits and no earned runs, with 32 strikeouts and only four walks.
But pitching hasn't been an issue the Pirates. They entered Wednesday with a 1.83 ERA as a team, but began the week averaging only 3.56 runs of their own. They needed extra innings Tuesday to break out for a season-high eight runs in the opener against the Mustangs, then topped it in Game 2.
"We've seen it in practice every day," Page said. "That was the frustrating part, is we could do it in practice and not take it to the game, and now it's starting to show a little bit, which is fun."
Dyson, who batted clean-up, came to the plate for the first time in the top of the first with two runners on and no outs. He says BRHS has been more aggressive during this series and he lashed a single to right field to send infielder Giancarlo Gamboa home for the first run of the game.
Two innings later, Dyson pulled a single to left field to score Gamboa for a second time and give Braden River a 3-0 lead. After a season-long offensive slump, Braden River has been jolted awake by a rivalry bout.
"No matter if we have one out, two outs, no outs in the inning, guy on base, two outs nobody on, we feel like we're capable of scoring runs. In the past games we haven't necessarily felt that," Dyson said. "This is a big turning point for us."