What was a pitching duel Monday night turned into a 7-2 loss in the 31st District Tournament for Henry County.
The Cats’ Alex Miles and Owen County’s Jarrod Ball duked it out from the mound until the Rebels broke the game open in the seventh inning with four runs.
Henry County scored first in the second inning. Stephen Archer got a one-out single to start things off. Seth Williams followed with a single and Brad West walked. Dakota Estes was hit by a pitch to force in the Cats’ first run. The Rebels got out of further trouble with a strikeout and force play to end the inning.
The Rebels came back in the top of the inning to tie the score. Ball helped his own cause by hitting a double with runners on first and second.
Owen went ahead in the fifth with two unearned runs. With runners on second and third the Cats committed two errors that allowed the runs to score.
But the Cats came back to make it 3-2 in the bottom of the inning. Isaac Steverson led off with a single and Landon New reached on an error. Dylan Adams laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third and Aaron McClish hit a sacrifice fly to bring Steverson home.
After a scoreless sixth inning the Rebels broke out for four runs on two hits and four walks. Williams came on in relief to strike out the final Rebel batter and end the scoring rally with the bases still loaded.
But the Cats went down in order in the bottom half of the inning to end the game and their season.
Coach Zak Yates was disappointed that the Cats could not get more offense to go with a good pitching performance from Miles.
“I thought Alex pitched good enough to get a win,” he said. “The reason we struggled all year was offense. When we don’t score runs early in the game and get some confidence, we tend to struggle.
“The problem of not taking control of the game early is it magnifies each pitch and play. We’ve always struggled somewhat in pressure situations.”
Whitefield Academy 2 HCHS 0
The Henry County Wildcats traveled to Louisville to take on Whitefield Academy in their regular season finale and fell 2-0.
The Wildcats pitched well but couldn’t string together any hits as they had just six base runners the entire game.
Whitefield had two hits on the day but managed to push across two runs in the third inning on two walks, a hit and a Wildcat error.
Coach Zak Yates was concerned with the lack of offense.
“Offensively, we have struggled, we haven’t been real good at the plate over the last two or three weeks,” he said. “Our pitching was good enough to win. Dakota, Aaron and Brad did a good job. We gave them their two runs with two walks and an error in the third.”
Bullitt Central 4 HCHS 3
The Cats fell in extra innings at Bullitt Central on May 15.
The Wildcats got off to a good start in the top of the first when Aaron McClish hit a solo home run to give the Cats a 1-0 lead.
The Cats added a run to their lead in the top of the second when Seth Williams drew a one-out walk and stole second. With two outs, Brad West singled to score Williams from second.
The Cougars got one back in the bottom of the second when a hit to the outfield took a bad hop and went for a triple with one out. The next batter grounded out to third scoring the runner on third.
Bullitt Central took the lead in the bottom of the fourth.
They started the inning with a double and a single. The next batter lined out to centerfield. The runner on first retreated to first and the throw to double him off was high allowing the runner on second to score. The runner on first advanced to second on the overthrow.
The next batter also flew out to centerfield. The runner on second tagged up and advanced to third. The throw got away and the runner tried to advance home.
Wildcats’ third baseman Isaac Steverson made a good throw to home, but the runner knocked the ball out of catcher James Pollard’s glove while crossing the plate.
Trailing 3-2, the Cats came to the plate in the top of the fifth and got a run to tie the score. McClish got a two-out double and Pollard followed with an RBI single.
Bullitt Central threatened in the bottom of the inning with a two-out single followed by a double to put runners on second and third. But the Cats got a groundout to the pitcher to end the threat.
Neither team was able to push across a run in the final two innings of regulation and the game went to extra innings.
The Cats got two runners on in the eighth but failed to score. Bullitt Central got one on in the eighth but the runner was picked off first for the second out of the inning and the Cats escaped damage.
The Cats threatened again in the ninth. Dylan Adams got a two out single. McClish reached on a single and Pollard walked to load the bases. But the Cougars got out of the inning with a groundball force out to stop the rally.
The Cougars won it in the bottom of the ninth.
The lead off batter singled and stole second base. The Cats intentionally walked the next batter. The runner on second was then thrown out trying to steal third by Pollard. But the runner on first advanced to third on successive wild pitches. The next batter walked to put runners on first and third with one out.
That brought the No. 9 hitter to the plate, who singled to bring home the winning run.
Yates was not pleased that his team gave up three unearned runs to set up the ninth inning dramatics.
“Our pitching was excellent but we gave them three runs,” he said. “It was not a good performance to end the week on. If we keep having three to four mental mistakes a game in the playoffs we are going to be one and done.”
Collins 10 HCHS 0
The Cats took on the Collins Titans — regarded as a top team in the region — on May 14.
The Titans came into the game with a record of 26-6. But the Titans had gone 6-6 since starting the season with 20 straight wins. After two consecutive close defeats they were looking to get back on track against the Wildcats.
Yates understood the situation. “We knew Collins would be a tough test,” he said. “We tried to do some different things strategy-wise to give us a better chance. We had to try to even the playing field a little bit.”
But Collins got off to good start by getting a run in the top of the first. Their momentum grew steadily as the innings went on and with the score 5-0 going into the bottom of the fourth the Titans broke out for five runs to go up 10-0.
The Cats got a leadoff single from Landon New to start the game and then went hitless the rest of the game. The Cats got a base runner on via error in the third, and two in the fifth through an error and hit batter, but they could never get a run across and the game ended on the 10-run rule.
“We have to play perfect to make up for some holes against some bigger teams,” Yates said. “It didn’t happen tonight. They were overlooking us and that’s no surprise. If we stop striking out at the plate and make some routine plays in the field then we have a chance to extend the game.”