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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
The Washington County Commanders came back against LaRue County on Monday to win the first round of the 5th Region Tournament, 5-3, against the Hawks.
“We came out in the first (inning) - we got the first two LaRue batters out, then we hit two batters, made an error and we gave up two runs in the first,” said WC head coach Derek Schuler. “They got one more in the second and then we settled in. Joseph Hamilton threw a great, great game. I think we left LaRue with bases loaded in the fourth with one out, and we left them there. We had some timely hits, got some bunts down and we did the little things right.”
WC got two runs in the third to pull within a run. The Commanders tied it up in the fourth when Fergus McCain crossed the plate on an RBI-single by Seth Mattingly to knot the score at 3-3.
McCain knocked in Tyler Coulter in the fifth to give WC the lead, as well as providing an insurance run by plating Ben Simms in the seventh to seal the win and a trip to the next round against Elizabethtown on Tuesday night. Results were not available at press time.
19th District Championship
WC got off to an early lead in the 19th District Tournament Championship game against Nelson County at Dean Watts Park in Bardstown on Wednesday. The momentum was going WC’s way until the umpires called a 30-minute delay for thunder in the area at the start of the second inning. After play resumed, the Cardinals brought some thunder of their own by belting out 19 hits to hand the Commanders a 20-8 loss.
The Commanders drew first blood in the bottom of the first when Jordan Settles knocked in Trae Abell who reached on a bloop single, stole second and took third on a single by Ben Simms. That put WC up 1-0.
In the second, the Commanders added a run when Fergus McCain, who reached on an error, scored on a double by WC starting pitcher Joseph Hamilton to give WC a 2-0 lead.
Hamilton struggled in the top of the third, allowing a walk to Andy Clowser, a bunt single by Bryce Greer and hitting Daniel Broaddus to load the bases. Jared Shouse came in to pinch run for Broaddus.
The next batter, Cody Gant, sent a long drive over the fence in left center for a grand slam, giving the Cards a 4-2 lead.
Nelson County got three more in the fourth on a three-run homer by Broaddus to put the Cardinals up 7-2.
Washington County answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Seth Mattingly reached on a walk, followed by a single by Alex Simms. Ben Simms doubled to center to bring Mattingly home to cut the Cards’ lead to four, trailing 7-3.
The Cards replaced starting pitcher Ricky Ricketts with Brian Sanders with two out in the fourth.
The Commanders continued to threaten in the inning with Alex Simms on third, Ben Simms on second and a walk of Settles loaded the bases. Tyler Smith stepped to the plate, but was caught looking on strike three to end the WC fourth.
The Cards scored seven times in the top of the fifth to take a 14-3 lead. Blake Smith came on in relief of Hamilton. With two outs, Abell took over on the mound and got the final out.
Just when it looked like the game would end after five innings, the Commanders refused to quit as McCain singled and Tyler Coulter sent a shot over the fence in left field for a two-run homer.
A single by Hamilton, walk by Mattingly and an infield single by Abell loaded the bases again for WC. With one out, Ben Simms hit an RBI single and the Commanders would have still had bases loaded, but Abell was caught off second for the second out. A balk by Sanders brought Hamilton home. WC added one more for a five-run fifth, but still trailed 14-8.
In the top of the sixth, Nelson County put the game away by adding six runs. With one out, Connor Riney went to the hill for WC as the Cards led by 12 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Bradley Gerage came on to pitch for Nelson County. McCain got the WC sixth started by reaching on a HBP. After a strikeout of Coulter, Hamilton hit a shot back to the mound and the throw cut down Mcain at second while Hamilton reached first. Gerage got Mattingly for the final out as the Cards won 20-8 in six innings for the title.
Washington County left 11 men on base.
Alex Simms, Joseph Hamilton and Ben Simms were named to the 19th District All-Tournament team for Washington County.
“Of course, we are disappointed that we didn’t win the district. It has been our goal all year. But I am very proud of our team,” said Schuler. “We are still playing and have advanced to the regional tournament.Our guys competed well, and more than half the teams in Kentucky are finished with their season right now, so it feels good to advance. Our guys in the lineup were focused and our dugout was into the game the whole time. A lot of guys on the team do things for the team that people don’t see, but we couldn’t function without everyone’s contributions. I am proud of the entire team from top to bottom.”
The Commanders got to the district championship game on the strength of a 10-5 win over Bardstown last Tuesday. Washington County got out to an early 5-0 lead, but Bardstown cut it to 5-4 with a four-run top of the fourth.
Travis Smith came on in relief for Washington County in the fourth and retired the next seven batters he faced while the Commanders stretched their lead back out to 10-4. The Tigers added a late run but couldn’t mount a comeback.
Tyler Smith singled, walked twice and scored four runs for Washington County.