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The Henry County Wildcats could get the top seed in the district tournament, set to start the week of May 20, but who will be the top seed is sill in question.
The Cats fell to Carroll last week, 7-2, leaving both teams with just one loss in district play. While the Cats have completed their district schedule, Carroll has a game to finish against Owen County. The Panthers were leading 8-0 when the game was called because of rain.
The first two innings between the Wildcats and Panthers belonged to the pitchers as both teams had just one base runner.
The Wildcats scored first in the top of the third inning when Dakota Estes reached on an error and stole second base. Brad West singled to advance Estes to third base and Landon New hit a sacrifice fly to bring Estes home.
Carroll came back for four runs in their half of the inning to take command of the game.
After the Wildcats induced a groundout to start the inning the wheels came off the bus, at least temporarily. The next batter walked, then advanced to third on a base hit. The Wildcats then made two errors on back-to-back plays, allowing two runners to score. A double by the Panthers did the rest of the damage in the inning.
The Wildcats struggled offensively through the sixth inning and the Panthers put the game away in the sixth with three more runs on one, hit, two walks and two Henry County errors.
Henry County got one run back in the seventh when Estes got a one-out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. West hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Estes but the Cats could not manage another base runner and Carroll County walked away with the important district win.
Henry head coach Zak Yates felt his team was not ready for the big game. “Offensively, it wasn’t one of our better games but it wasn’t terrible,” he said.
“We only struck out three times but we couldn’t string together enough hits. We made five errors and some of them were on easy plays that we just didn’t make. Those five errors led to five runs scoring. Overall we weren’t prepared and that falls back on me. I didn’t have them ready to play”
Anderson County 8, HCHS 7
The Wildcats fell behind 7-1 before rallying in the last two innings in a game whose outcome could have been very, very different.
Anderson scored first in the top of the first inning. With one out they drew a walk. After a fly out to centerfield, the next batter was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. The fifth hitter got a big two-out single to score the run.
In the second inning the Bearcats got a walk, three singles and a double to score three runs and make it 4-0.
Anderson continued to dominate in the third with another run courtesy of a walk and two Wildcat errors.
But the Cats got a run back in the bottom of the inning. New led off with a single but was caught stealing second. Dylan Adams was hit by a pitch, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on James Pollard’s two-out single.
Anderson added two more in the fourth inning on a single, a triple and a controversial balk call.
With runners on first and third, pitcher Seth Williams faked a throw to first for what appeared to be a balk but the call was not made. After a verbal protest form the Anderson County coach, several seconds elapsed before the umpire made the balk call.
At that point the call was salt in the wound as the Bearcats appeared to be heading for an easy victory.
But Henry County wasn’t down and out, and got two runs back in the fifth to make the score 7-3. Aaron McClish and Pollard each had an RBI single to score New and Adams in the inning.
The Bearcats squeezed out one run in the sixth on an error, a base hit and an RBI-groundout. That extra run proved to be crucial.
The Cats struck for four runs in the bottom of the sixth to make the game a one-run contest. Estes led off with a single and was followed with a base hit by Brad West. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch. New followed and was hit by a pitch with a full count.
Adams was also hit by a pitch, forcing in Estes. McClish and Pollard followed with RBI groundouts to make it 8-6. Adams scored the final run of the inning on another Bearcat wild pitch.
The Wildcats shut down the Bearcats in the seventh and came to bat with a chance to tie or win the game with momentum clearly on their side. Estes again led off the inning and promptly doubled to deep left-center field. Estes advanced to third on a groundout by West. The Cats had the tying run on third with one out but couldn’t get Estes home.
The best chance came when New lined a shot to third base. It appeared that the third baseman got his glove under it but the umpire made the call and the third baseman had to throw to first for the out. Estes had to stay at third because the ball looked like it was going to be caught for a line out and he did not want to be doubled off the third.
It was that kind of game for the Cats.
“We had too many mistakes early in the game,” Yates said. “When you make little mistakes over the course of the game, they start to add up. This was a prime example of how every pitch in a game is important.
“I’m proud of the kids for battling back and making it a close game in the end.”