By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
Mt. Vernon —
Southwestern came into last night’s 12th Region Baseball Championship game against Mercer County with a plan.
Unfortunately that plan didn’t pan out the way it was supposed to for the Southwestern Warriors, as the Mercer County Titans came away with a five-inning, 13-3 victory in the title game last night at Rockcastle County High School.
Defensively the Warriors struggled, as they committed four errors in the loss to Mercer County. Those errors would hurt the ‘Blue and Orange’ in the end, which was something that head coach Alex Eaton told his team could not happen.
“We just didn’t play our ‘A’ game today,” began Eaton. “I’ve said it before, but we’ve got to play error-free baseball. The scoreboard doesn’t look like our pitching was there, but we just booted the ball around too much. It’s hard to go out like that, but it is what it is.”
The ten-run victory allowed Jeremy Shope’s bunch to win their third straight regional championship and advance to next week’s Forcht Bank/KHSAA Baseball State Tournament in Lexington.
For Southwestern, the loss to the Titans brought an end to the 2013 season, which was a year that saw the Warriors go 27-9, finish as 48th District champions, and play in their second regional title game in school history.
“I hate to go out this way, but there is nothing to drag our head about,” said the third-year Southwestern coach. “We’ve proven a lot this year and accomplished so many things this season. I hate it for our seniors, because they’ve pushed everybody around them to make this run possible. They’ve been a special group, so I wanted to win this especially for them.”
Mercer County jumped to a 10-0 lead on the Warriors just like that, as they scored two runs in the opening frame and eight runs in the third inning. Southwestern would never be able to recover from the early Titan onslaught.
The Warriors scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Titan lead to seven runs at 10-3. Vincent Boils and Zack Profitt, who both had singles, scored the Warriors’ first two runs of the night. After hitting a double to left field, Wyatt Burton tallied Southwestern’s third and final run of the game on a sacrifice from Trevor Stacey.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Titans added three runs to the total to bring the mercy rule into effect, bringing the score to 13-3.
Southwestern, who had six hits on the night, was led by Boils’ two hits. Logan Starnes, Lucas Turpin, Burton, and Profitt chimed in with a hit. Stacey and Burton each had an RBI in the season-ending loss.
Brandon Tucker, who was one of four pitchers to make an appearance for the Warriors , was saddled with the loss. Mercer County’s JT Long earned the victory, giving up three runs on six hits in five innings of work.
With much of this year’s regional runner-up team returning in the spring of 2014, look for the Warriors to be back in contention for another region title next year.
“We have a lot of guys coming back, so the future is bright,” concluded Eaton. “We’ll get back to work to get better for next season. I think this team will be back in this game next year, because we have a core that won’t quit working.”
Five local baseball players were named to the 2013 12th Region Baseball All-Tournament team: Boils (Southwestern), Trevor Howard (Southwestern), Logan Ramsey (Somerset), Aaron Smith (Pulaski County), and Starnes (Southwestern).
SW - 0 0 0 3 0 - 3 6 4
MC - 2 0 8 0 3 - 13 12 3
W - Long (MC)
L - Tucker (SW)
2B - Burton (SW); Sims, Goodman (MC)
3B - Peavler (MC)
HR - Brown (MC)
RBI - Stacey, Burton (SW); Brown 4, Sims 2, Banks 2, Goodman (MC)