Fresh off a hard fought 6-5 win over Southeastern Lexington, Somerset-Pulaski County (S-PC) faced the daunting task of having to take out juggernaut programs on back-to-back days. But this resilliant group proved up to the task, surviving ten grueling innings of youth baseball played at the highest level to win 6-4.
The game began as a pitcher’s duel between S/PC’s Logan Combs and South Lexington’s Cameron Garner. Through the first four innings Combs held the Lexington hitters in check, allowing only three scattered singles and a walk. Garner, in the other dugout was almost as successful. But S/PC managed to scratch out a run on three hits in the third inning to draw first blood.
Combs led off with a single, and Hunter Cromer followed with a clean double. But the South Lexington outfield, which made several great catches and perfect relay throws in the game, executed to perfection as they cut down Combs trying to advance to third. Cromer was still able to score, however, thanks to a clutch single from Evan Saindon. It was S-PC’s fifth hit through the first three innings. Unfortunately, South Lexington’s Garner just grew stronger as the game went on. Over the next three and two-thirds innings, only Trevor Ridner could notch a base hit for S-PC.
The 1-0 S-PC lead held until the bottom of the fifth, when South Lexington seized control of the action. Evan Baker, Cameron Garner, and Harrison Lane reached Combs for three straight singles to start the inning and tie the score at 1-1., Luke Thatcher then vaulted South Lexington into the lead with a sacrifice fly which drove home Garner to make it 2-1.
In the sixth they added to their lead, seemingly putting a stamp on another South Lexington victory. With two on and two out left fielder Evan Baker drilled a two-run double to expand the lead to 4-1. Baker was South Lexington’s star of the game. Not only did he single and score their first run, as well as doubling in their third and fourth runs, but he saved as many as three runs in the outfield. He made two great plays on laser line drives off the bat of Trevor Howard, the two hardest hit balls of the night.
So S-PC came to bat in the top of the seventh with only three outs to score three runs. They had managed just one run through the first 18 outs, and the momentum was all with South Lexington. Things looked bleak. But looks can be deceiving.
After pitching in cruise control for most of the game, Cameron Garner finally seemed to run out of gas in the top of the seventh. After walking Combs and Cromer to start the inning. he was lifted for Harrison Lane. That didn’t stop the S-PC momentum though. Pinch hitter Justin Walker worked Lane for another walk to load the bases with no outs. Howard then singled to center to close the lead to 4-2, and Logan Ramsey drew his third of four walks. This one forced home the third S-PC run. Then Trevor Ridner, who had three hits in the game, delivered his first of two clutch at bats when he drove in the speedy Walker with a game tying sacrifice fly.
Given new life, S-PC put their fate in the hands of Trevor Howard on the mound once again. After allowing five runs in three innings to Southeastern the night before, Howard saw Landon Powell come in and shut things down long enough for the locals to pull out a win. Now he was being called on to return the favor. That’s exactly what he did, striking out three of the four hitters he faced in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
After squandering a scoring chance in the eighth, it looked as if S/PC might also squander a good comeback, as a lack of focus over a two batter span almost cost them the game. A pair of one out infield errors put two runners in scoring position. Then they intentionally walked Garner to load the bases. But they caught a break when South Lexington seemingly missed a sign for a suicide bunt, and Jacob Herrin was tagged out at the plate trying to steal home, and the game. A groundout to third base sent the action to the ninth. Then it was South Lexington’s chance to survive a great scoring chance.
Logan Ramsey drew his fourth walk to lead off the ninth, and Trevor Ridner followed with an opposite field double. But after a fly out and a pair of strikeouts ended another fruitless inning, S-PC had to wonder if they’d just cost themselves the game. But Howard was money on the mound, allowing only two Mike Tripure singles in his four innings of work. Tripure would end the game with four hits, but luckily for S/PC he came to the plate with the bases empty all five times he batted.
In turns out that S-PC needed double digits to lock down the victory. In the top of the 10th, Combs led off by drawing a walk from Lane. He was on second with two outs when Howard came to the plate. After seeing him destroy two line drives to deep left field, the South Lexington staff didn’t want to risk fate again, so they put him on first with an intentional walk. They happened to be tempting fate just as much by facing Logan Ramsey, they just couldn’t tell because they’d walked him four times. Ramsey got to swing this time though, grounding one between first and second. The throw to first pulled the covering Lane off the bag, as Combs hustled around the bases to score the go ahead run.
Then the real hitting star of the night came to the plate for S-PC—Trevor Ridner. He launched a double that finally cleared the heads of the outstanding South Lexington outfield, driving home Howard with the sixth run before Ramsey was cut down at the plate by another perfect relay throw.
The damage had been done, however, as S-PC took a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the tenth. And Howard ended it with flair, striking out the first two hitters before getting Baker to fly to Cromer in center to end it.
They needed everything they had, but S-PC was able to knock off their second straight team from Lexington and earn a birth in the finals. They now wait for someone to emerge from the Loser’s Bracket. Whoever they face will have to beat them twice in a row to keep the Somerset/Pulaski County All-Stars from becoming the 13-yeard old Babe Ruth State Champions.
The local stars were scheduled to play Wednesday night at 8:30 at Pulaski County High School. If they win they are, of course, Kentucky State Champions. If they lose, there will be one game for all the marbles on Thursday evening at 7 pm. South Lexington, Southeastern, Bath County, and Shelby County are all still vying for the chance to meet S-PC in the finals.
S-PC 001 000 300 2 = 6 10 2
S L 000 022 000 0 = 4 11 2
2B—Ridner 2, Cromer
RBI—Ridner 2, Saindon, Howard, Ramsey
Combs 6 IP, 4ER, 4R, 9H, 4K, 2BB
Howard 4 IP, 0ER, 0R, 2H, 6K, 0BB, 1 IBB
RBI—Baker 2, Thatcher, Lane
Garner 6+ IP, 3ER, 3R, 6H, 2K, 4BB, 1HBP
Lane 4 IP, 1ER, 3R, 4H, 4K, 5BB, 1 IBB, 1WP