Wildcats come back vs. Oldham. Walton

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Fall to Shelby, 11-2

By Greg Woods



The Henry County Wildcats had two comeback wins last week sandwiched around an 11-2 loss to Shelby County to leave them with a season record of 12-3.

HCHS 4 Oldham Co. 3

Nic Riggins’ one-out three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning gave Henry County a 4-2 lead over Oldham County. Blake Prather then pitched out of a jam in the seventh to record the win as Henry County ran its record to 11-2 on the season Thursday night.

The Colonels jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first as they got to Henry County ace Jaydon Berry for a walk and three hits.

Berry settled down after that and held the Oldham County offense scoreless over the next three innings.

Henry County got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Justin Edens got a one-out double. Tristan Passeron came on to run as the courtesy runner and ended up scoring on Dawson Armstrong’s two-out single to left field.

The score remained 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth.

After getting Prather to ground back to the pitcher, Oldham County’s starter walked Edens and Daniel Murray.

A reliever was brought in and Nic Riggins greeted him on the first pitch with a shot over the left field fence to make it 4-2.

Oldham County got a runner on with one out when Prather hit their second batter. The next batter hit a groundball back to Prather who threw to Berry covering second for a force out.

With a two-run lead and two outs, Henry County chose not to hold the runner on first on base and he stole second. The next hitter smacked a base hit up the middle to score the runner on second and make it 4-3.

The Colonels’ next batter grounded weakly to Prather who underhanded the ball to Armstrong at first for the final out and Henry County’s fourth consecutive win.

Berry went four innings and gave up four hits, one walk and struck out two. Prather pitched three innings gave up two hits and one walk and struck out one to pick up the win.

“Jaydon is battling a finger issue and it impacted his command tonight but he fought and gave us a chance like he has for three years,” HCHS Coach Stuart Dill said. “I had a pitching plan to use Jaydon for four innings and Blake for three in preparation for our district game with Carroll next Tuesday.

“Jaydon also made an outstanding play at short in the seventh inning. Blake was outstanding in relief to pick up the win.”

The Colonels out hit Henry County 6-5 but gave up four walks and committed one error to none for Henry County.

“We got two solid pitching performances and played great defense which allowed us to stay in the game,” Dill said. “We had solid at bats most of the game and we were finally able to get to their pitcher some and got some big hits with runners on base. Those are all keys to beating a quality team like Oldham.”

Riggins’ three-run blast was his second in eight days as he also homered in a win over Fern Creek during the Valley Invitational.

“Nic had a huge hit but also played a great center field,” Dill said. “Dawson got a big two-out hit to score our first run. Justin, Daniel and Dylan all had great at bats. It was a team effort tonight.

“This was a good confidence win against one of the top teams in our region,” Dill continued. “I told the guys it was great win but we have to keep getting better to get where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Oldham County fell to 8-8 with the loss.

Shelby Co. 11 HCHS 2

The Wildcats got off to a good start against the Rockets as the starting pitcher, Murray, set the Rockets down in order in the top of the first inning. Back-to-back doubles with one out by Prather and Edens gave Henry County a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second.

But the Rockets’ bats came to life in the second inning and never quieted down the rest of the game.

The Rockets got three runs in the second inning on four hits, a walk and a Wildcat error.

Henry County got one back in the bottom of the second when Dawson Armstrong walked and Dylan Mayer singled to start the inning. After two strikeouts, Berry came through with a single to score Armstrong.

After a scoreless third inning, the Rockets scored four more runs on three walks, three hits and a fielder’s choice RBI.

The Wildcats’ bats went silent the rest of the game and the Rockets added four more runs in the top of the sixth to go home with a nine-run win.

The Wildcats had six errors in the game while managing only six hits. Wildcat pitchers gave up six walks. The Rockets had 12 hits in the game.

“We didn’t play great defense and our pitching struggled with command,” Dill said. “You also have to give credit to Shelby County. They came out and really swung the bats well.”

Dill was happy that senior first baseman Armstrong was able to come on in relief in the final couple of innings and shut down the Rockets.

“I thought Dawson came in and did a good job of throwing strikes on the mound,” Dill said. “He typically does not pitch for us, but with a game Saturday, we needed to have some pitching left and Dawson did a great job of helping us with that.

“Sometimes you just have those games where you do not play well during a season and things do not go your way. That is part of the game. It is good for us to face some adversity and see how we respond.”

Shelby County improved to 8-8-1 with the win.

HCHS 7 Walton 6

The 8th Region All A champion Bearcats came to Henry County and nearly walked away with their sixth straight win but Berry’s bases loaded single in the bottom of the seventh gave Henry County their second comeback win of the week.

Walton, who had a busy week with the All A Classic, led 6-4 going into the sixth inning but Henry County got to their second pitcher of the day for two runs in the sixth before the Wildcats won it with Berry’s walk-off base hit in the seventh.

Prather came on in relief of Edens in the fifth inning with two outs. Edens had struck out the first batter of the inning as he tried to protect a 4-2 lead, but the next batter doubled. The Wildcats then got a ground out that left the Bearcats with a runner on second. But a passed ball, a wild pitch and an error quickly helped the Bearcats score three runs before Prather came on to end the rally.

The Wildcats threatened in the bottom of the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs but a ground out ended the threat.

Prather shut the Bearcats down in the sixth. The first batter singled but the next batter lined a pitch back at Prather who caught the ball and threw to first to get the runner for a double play. Prather then struck out the next batter.

Henry County tied the score when Berry led off with a walk and came around to score with two outs on a single by Murray. Murray then scored on a double by Riggins to deep left-centerfield.

After Prather set the Bearcats down in order in the top of the inning, Walton walked the first two batters for the Wildcats in the bottom of the inning.

Zach Woods then laid down a bunt and reached safely before Berry singled to left field to score Dylan Mayer and end the contest.

Berry had three hits and walked once on the day and scored three runs. Prather had a hit and scored two runs as well as knocking in two runs. Murray went three for four with two RBIs and run scored.

Edens pitched four and two-thirds innings and gave up six runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out two. Prather pitched two and one-third innings and gave up no runs, one hit and one hit batter. He struck out four.

“Justin did a good job, just giving us a chance and eating some good innings, and Blake was outstanding again in relief to pick up the win,” Dill said. “Our hitters did a good job of putting things together. We had chances to score all day and finally came through with big hits in the sixth and seventh innings.”

Dill was especially pleased with how the bottom part of the order came through in the seventh.

“I really want to compliment the bottom of our order because when we needed base runners in the bottom of the seventh, Dylan and Luke Kent drew walks and Zach was able to get a bunt down to set us up to win.”

He was also pleased to see the team respond after their worst defeat of the year to Shelby County Friday night.

“It was good to bounce back after Friday and get a tough win that we really had to fight for,” he said. “We had a tough stretch of games against quality teams and you obviously want to win them all, but taking two of three from Oldham, Shelby and Walton is never a bad thing.”

Walton fell to 9-4 with the loss.