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Sam Walz gave a great performance on the mound and the Hornets eliminated Edmonson County 9-1 in the opening round of the 3rd Region Baseball Tournament Saturday at Grayson County High School.
“Sam came out and threw a heck of a game, our bats came alive and the defense stayed solid. We executed on a lot of fronts to advance to the semifinals,” HCHS coach Brad Keown said.
The Hornets got off to a 3-0 start when Wildcats pitcher Chaz Wilson walked two and hit three batters in the first inning. Drew Lyday, Kaleb Keown and Ryan Jones all scored for Hancock County.
Walz and the HCHS defense did a job on the Edmonson offense, shutting them out for five frames. Walz kept the Wildcats off balance with a mixture of pitches. The junior left-hander did allow a hit until the third inning.
Edmonson had their best chance in the fourth when the first two batters reached base. Walz got the next hitter to pop out to short stop then a ground ball back to the pitcher resulted in a 1-3-2 double play. First baseman Keown threw home when a runner at third tried to score and Lyday made the put out at the plate.
Austin Volocko put the Hornets ahead 4-0 with an RBI double in the fifth and Jones knocked in a run to give Hancock County a commanding advantage. The score jumped to 7-0 in the sixth when Hunter Severs led off the inning with a double. Severs later scored on a sacrifice fly by Cole Dixon.
The frame continued when Lyday cracked a 2-out double. The Hornets’ catcher scored on a double by Keown.
The Wildcats finally got on the scoreboard in the home half of the sixth when Isaiah Johnson hit a solo home run. Logan Willis closed out the inning by catching a major league pop up a second.
The Hornet offense added two more runs for good measure in the seventh. Jones walked and Jake Frames was hit by a wild pitch. The two later scored on defensive errors.
Walz earned the win on the mound. He allowed one run on seven hits, with four Ks and one walk over seven complete innings pitched.
Severs was 1 for 3 at the plate with a double and two RBI, and Jones was 1 for 2 with one RBI and two runs scored. Lyday was 1 for 3 with a double, Volocko and Keown were both 1 for 4 with a double and one RBI each, and Dixon was 1 for 4 with one RBI. Andrew Boutcher was 0 for 1 with two walks and a stolen base, and Willis was 0 for 2 with one RBI. Volocko stole two bases, while Dixon and Jones had one theft each.
Kaleb Keown hit a home run and had four RBI during a game against Owensboro Catholic that ended in heartbreak on Sunday. The Aces came from behind to win 7-6, ending the Hornets season during the regional semifinals at Leitchfield.
“We put up six runs and defensively we played a great game. We could’ve gotten another run or two pushed across, but I couldn’t be more proud of the boys,” coach Brad Keown said.
The Hornets got off to another hot start against one of the better teams in the state. Cole Dixon drew a base on balls to led off the first frame and Drew Lyday followed with a single. Aiden Taylor came in to pinch run for the catcher.
Keown delivered a base hit that scored Dixon and Taylor later stole home to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Hornets’ pitcher Brock Tindle was doing a job on the mound for HCHS. The freshman set down the Aces batters in order in the first inning then struck out Hunter Small to end the second.
The Hancock County dugout got pumped up in the third inning when Dixon and Lyday set the table for Keown by leading off with back-to-back hits. Keown came to the plate and ripped the first pitch offered by Aces’ hurler Hayden Ward. Keown’s shot cleared the wall in center field for a 3-run home run.
Hancock County went up 6-0 in the fourth when Logan Willis led off with a double. The sophomore advanced to third on a passed ball then scored on a base hit by Hunter Severs.
Catholic got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the same inning when Luke Scales doubled and scored on a hit by Finley Munsey.
The Aces still didn’t have an out, but Tindle got Braden Mundy to hit into a fielder’s choice and the freshman eventually got out of the inning with his team leading 6-1.
Catholic did trim the Hornets lead to 6-3 with two plated runs in the fifth.
Hancock County looked to go further ahead when Dixon led off the top of the seventh with a base hit. The Hornets’ single season steals leader did what he does best and the boys had a runner in scoring position with nobody out. A ground ball by
Lyday advanced Dixon to third and a walk for Keown and stolen base left runners at second and third.
The Aces got out of the jam with a fly ball to the mound and a strike out. The Hornets still led 6-3 but they needed three more outs.
The first batter of the seventh reached base on a defensive error and Luke Evans made the Hornets pay for it. The junior belted a home run that cut the lead to 6-5 and Scales followed with a solo homer that tied the score.
Munsey hit a double and Mundy walked, forcing a changed on the mound for the Hornets.
Dixon came on in relief of Tindle and got a ground ball out, but the go-ahead run was now just 90 feet away. Two batters later, Jamison Wall hit a walk-off single to end a wild and crazy game.
The Hornets finished the season with a record of 14-18. They played well down the stretch and enjoyed a fine run in the post season.
“The boys fought and showed what they’re capable of and I’d go to battle with them any day against any team,” Keown said.
Tindle allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits, with four Ks and three walks over six innings. Dixon allowed one hit and one walk in the seventh.
“Brock threw well the whole game, they just happened to get on a couple of pitches there at the end,” the coach said.
Keown was 3 for 3 at the plate with the homer and four RBI. Dixon was 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored, and Lyday was 2 for 4. Willis was 1 for 3 with a double, and Severs was 1 for 3 with one RBI.
Cole Dixon finished the season with a school record 48 stolen bases.
By Steve Wimmer