After a water-logged March that allowed the Henry County baseball team to play just three games, the Wildcats opened April with seven games in one week.
The Cats played four games in the Valley Invitational to start the week and then played three games in two days in the Henry/Shelby Wood Bat Classic over the weekend.
In the Valley tournament the Cats beat Seneca on April 2, 12-4, to follow up their first victory of the season the day before against Breckinridge County. The next day, the Cats played Atherton who defeated them the week before 15-5.
This time the Cats rallied from an early deficit for a 6-5 win that propelled them into the championship game against Bardstown on Thursday where they fell 4-2.
On Friday the Cats hosted one group in a round robin tournament while Shelby County hosted the other group.
The Cats fell 8-6 to Fleming County in their first game of the day and then 15-0 to Nelson County in the second game. On Saturday at Shelby County, the Cats came back to beat Rowan County 8-5 in the fifth place game of the tournament to finish the week.
Bardstown 4 HCHS 2
The Cats got out to a 2-0 lead in the championship game of the Valley tournament before falling victim to one bad inning.
After a scoreless first and second inning for both teams the Cats scored their only two runs of the game in the third inning.
The rally started with Alex Miles reaching first base on an error. He reached third base on a wild pick-off throw by Bardstown pitcher Dillon O’Daniel. Landon New drew a walk, putting runners on first and third, before stealing second.
Brad West then hit a groundout, scoring Miles and moving New to third.
Aaron McClish then laid down a squeeze bunt, scoring New, and reached second base on a wild throw to first. The Cats’ threat ended with a pop-up bunt attempt that doubled McClish off second base.
A scoreless fourth inning led to the decisive fifth for Bardstown.
The Tigers tried to stretch a hard hit ball deep into centerfield into a triple, but the batter was thrown out on a nice relay from centerfielder Ethan Tuggle to shortstop New to third baseman McClish.
The Tigers’ next batter reached on an error and was left at first after a pop fly to third. With two outs, the Tigers then hit a double to left field, scoring their first run of the game. O’Daniel, who pitched a complete game, batted next and hit a shot well over the right field fence for a two-run home run, and what turned out to be the game-deciding hit.
In the bottom of the fifth the Wildcats threatened with two on and no outs but failed to come through with a hit to get the runners home.
In the sixth the Tigers added an insurance run on a squeeze bunt play.
The Cats managed only one more base runner in the final two innings, which gave the championship of the Valley Invitational to Bardstown.
Coach Zak Yates thought fatigue, poor hitting and missed opportunities left the Cats short of taking home the championship trophy. “I think fatigue played a role in this game,” he said. “My guys were exhausted. We battled our butts off to just get in the championship. That led to some non-execution on the bases and at the plate. When you strike out 11 times, it’s going be tough to win and when you do win you have to be perfect in other aspects of the game.
“I didn’t prepare my team well enough leading up to this game to try to do some of the things that we attempted during the game. I thought we were ready and we were not. I have to a better job with that.
“This tournament was definitely good for us. It was a good learning experience and definitely helped us. It gave us some confidence that we can compete with anybody.”
Alex Miles was the only Henry County player named to the all tournament team.
HCHS 6 Atherton 5
The day before the championship game the Cats pulled off a comeback win against a team that had defeated them on the 10-run rule just six days earlier.
The Cats fell behind 5-0 after 4.5 innings, then rallied with five runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score and set up a walk off win in the bottom of the seventh.
Alex Miles went the distance in the game after settling down following a rough third inning in which he gave up three runs. The defense had two big errors that contributed to three Atherton runs..
After a solo home run in the fourth inning, Miles allowed only two base runners the rest of the game.
The Cats’ fourth inning rally began with a single by McClish. After three straight walks by Atherton’s pitcher, Williams came through with a two-run double and Isaac Steverson got a two-RBI single to tie the score at 5-5 going into the fifth inning.
Neither team scored again until the Cats struck for the winning run in the seventh inning.
New led off with a walk. Brad West sacrificed him to second base. New then stole third base to give the Cats the winning run at third with one out. McClish was walked to set up a double-play opportunity. Bodie Clark struck out and the Cats were down to their final out. First baseman Stephen Archer delivered a game-winning RBI single to leave the Cats undefeated in the round-robin portion of the tournament.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way we battled back against Atherton. They had just beaten us by 10 runs and we were down 5-0 in this game and battled back to win,” Yates said. “It shows that your team is going to fight pretty hard and going to be able to compete and that means a lot.”
HCHS 12 Seneca 4
The Cats jumped on Seneca early with eight runs in the first three innings. Henry County added a run in the fifth to make it 9-0 and the game looked like it might end early, but Seneca scored four runs in the sixth to make it 9-4.
The Cats scored three runs in the sixth but could not put the game away and ended up going the distance.
New had a big game from the lead off spot with three hits and four RBI as did centerfielder Tuggle who had three hits and scored three runs. Dylan Adams also had a three-run home run to contribute to the Wildcats biggest offensive output of the season.
“Landon New had a heckuva a game,” Yates said. “He had three hits and four RBIs. Brad did an excellent job pitching. Overall, we had a chance to run-rule them and we didn’t take advantage of it. In a tournament like that you want to take advantage of that when you can to save some legs and arms.”
HCHS 8, Rowan Co. 5
The Wildcats took on the Rowan County Vikings on Saturday in the fifth place game of the Henry/Shelby Wood Bat Classic.
As the name indicates the teams used wooden bats in the tournament to get a feel for how the pros play the game.
The Cats were coming off two disappointing losses the day before at home but managed to rally from behind for their fourth win of the season.
Rowan County went up 2-0 in the first inning before the Cats came back with two in the third to tie the game. In the bottom of the third the Vikings scored a run to retake the lead.
The Cats struck for three runs in the fourth inning to lead 5-3 and never looked back.
Williams provided the big hit with a three-RBI double in the fourth inning. Williams, Steverson and McClish each had two hits on the day. McClish had three steals including a steal of home for the final run in the sixth inning.
The Wildcats were helped by control problems from Rowan’s pitchers as they walked two batters and hit five batters. Four of the seven Cats who got free passes scored.
Fleming Co. 8, HCHS 6
In the first game of the Wood Bat Classic the Cats let an early 3-0 lead slip away and fell to Fleming County despite threatening in the sixth and seventh innings.
The Cats got two runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Archer. They added another in the second when Miles scored on an infield hit by New.
Fleming County came back to get three runs on three hits in the third inning as the Cats hurt their own cause with errors and control problems.
But the Cats retook the lead in the third. James Pollard led off with a single. Tyus Ford ran for Pollard and stole second base. He advanced to third on a groundout by Archer and scored on a wild pitch.
Fleming County came back to score a run in the fourth to tie the score and then got their big inning in the fifth. Fleming scored runs on a hit batter, two singles, a walk and a three-RBI double to take the lead for good.
The Cats came back with two runs in the sixth on an RBI groundout by Steverson and an RBI single by McClish. With the bases loaded and one out the Cats hit into an inning ending double play.
After holding Fleming in the seventh, the Cats loaded the bases again with one out, but hard luck again foiled Henry County as Steverson hit a hard grounder right to the third baseman who stepped on third and threw to first for the game-ending double play.
Nelson County 15, HCHS 0
The Nelson County Cardinals had their ace on the mound against the Wildcats in the second game Friday but with hot bats, they didn’t need their ace, as they pounded out 15 runs on 14 hits against a tired, arm-weary Wildcat team.
Jared Proctor, a junior pitcher for the Cardinals, was coming off a no-hitter against Owensboro Catholic. Against Henry County he allowed just three hits and two walks before being relived in the sixth inning.
McClish, Tuggle and Williams got the only hits for the Cats as they managed to get no runners past second base in the game.