NICHOLASVILLE—Hitting, or more accurately a lack thereof at times, had been a bugaboo of sorts this year for the Southwestern Warriors.

And, in yesterday’s opening round of the 12th Regional Baseball Tournament from West Jessamine High School, the Warriors struggles at the plate did in Southwestern.

Lincoln County’s Trevor Merriman handcuffed Rod McAninch’s club all day long, holding Southwestern to only three hits in the contest, and as a result, it was the Patriots, coming into the tournament with just a 9-21 record, moving on to tonight’s semi finals, with an improbable 4-1 win over the Warriors; champions of the 48th District.

“We just couldn’t come up with the big hit today, and we haven’t came up with a big hit for quite a while,” lamented McAninch, after his club’s season ended with the loss.

“In the second half of the season, our numbers at the plate were really down,” added the Warrior skipper. “We only had three hits today, and two of those were infield hits. We just had bad at bats today, and we had guys that chased bad pitches all day long.”

The Patriots got on the board first, by scoring one run in the top half of inning number one off of Southwestern’s Matt Robertson.

And, the Pats scored that run without the benefit of a base hit.

Leadoff hitter Ryan Young was hit by Robertson, and moved to second base on a wild pitch.

Left fielder Noah Keeton moved Young to third base on a groundout, and Young scored when Lincoln County’s next hitter, Ryan Tolar hit a sacrifice fly to center field.

Southwestern immediately answered that run, by scoring its only run of the day in the bottom half of the first against Merriman. And like the Patriots, McAninch’s club scored that run without the benefit of a base hit.

Leadoff hitter Mike Jones was hit by a Merriman pitch, and courtesy runner Eric Wright, running for Jones, stole second base, and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice by Brandon Hranicky.

With the score tied at 1-1, the Patriots came right back, scoring three times in the top of the second off of Robertson. And this time, Lincoln County did it by knocking the ball all over and out of the ball yard.

Merriman helped himself with a leadoff double, and first baseman Devon Denson followed him with a deep blast to left field for a two-run shot, giving Lincoln County a 3-1 lead.

Robertson then gave up a single to Trey Edwards, but he got Brandon Weller to ground into a double play, and looked like he would get out of the inning without any further damage being done.

But, it was not to be.

Lincoln County’s number nine hitter, Tony Martin got a walk from Robertson, and after Young came back to the plate and reached base on a Southwestern error, Keeton hit a clutch, two-out single driving in Martin for the third run of the inning.

That score made it 4-1 in favor of the Patriots after only one and a half innings of play, but behind the strong pitching by Merriman, that three-run cushion would be enough for the Patriots.

“Trevor has really been battling here lately, and he had some struggles at the beginning of the year, but he’s gotten stronger as the year has went on,” noted Patriot head coach Danny Masten after the game.

“Trevor’s a senior, and he didn’t want to finish it up here today, and he definitely didn’t want to finish it up last week in the district tourney, when he knocked off Boyle County to get us here,” Masten added.

Southwestern only got three hits on the day against Merriman, as the Patriot senior totally shut down the Warrior offense.

Eric Rice had an infield single in the second inning, and Josh Sadler had an infield hit in the bottom of the seventh.

The only hit the Warriors mounted on the afternoon that left the infield, was a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth inning from Hranicky, but the Warriors, as was the case all afternoon long, couldn’t get him home.

Southwestern had base runners in every inning on the day, but McAninch’s club stranded 8 of those base runners, on a day when that clutch hit to kick-start the offense was nothing more than a fading glimmer of hope.

Robertson went five innings on the mound for the Warriors, before giving way to Ryan Branscum who threw the final two innings in relief for Southwestern.

Robertson allowed the Patriots 4 runs on 6 hits, with a strikeout and 3 walks, but he was never really able to get comfortable on the mound, according to his head coach.

“Matt just got a little bit out of his comfort zone in the first inning,” stated McAninch. “And, in the second inning too. He just couldn’t find his zone, because he was having a hard time locating his curveball and his slider. By the time that he did find his comfort level, they had already put up four runs.”

But, the biggest problem on this day wasn’t the Warriors pitching staff. Instead, the main kink in the armor was a Warrior lineup that was able to get just one hit out of the infield, coming up with only three hits on the day.

“It’s just the nature of baseball, but again, I think it goes back to our lack of hitting today,” stated McAninch. “You’ve got to hit to win, and we didn’t hit it today. And, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We graduate four seniors from this team, and truthfully, they’re four of our better players.”

With the loss, Southwestern ended its season at 21-10-1, while the Patriots, now 10-21 on the year, will meet the Somerset Briar Jumpers in tonight’s first semi final contest.

That game is set to begin at 6 p.m.


Lincoln Co. 4 8 1

Southwestern 1 3 3

DOUBLES—(SW) Hranicky 1. (LC) Merriman 1. HOMERUNS—(LC) Denson 1. RBI’S—(SW) Hranicky 1. (LC) Denson 2, Keeton 1, Tolar 1. WP—Merriman. LP—Robertson

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