On Sunday in their opening round 13-inning win over Pulaski County, the Somerset High School baseball team struggled to get hits and put runs on the board. On Tuesday in the 47th District Tournament championship game, getting hits and scoring runs wasn't a problem as the Briar Jumpers blasted Rockcastle County 14-1 in six innings
"I think the pressure of this game got us hitting better tonight, but Pulaski County's pitchers Kaleb Adams and Alex Acey had a lot to do with us not hitting on Sunday," Somerset High School baseball coach Phil Grundy said. "Tonight, our guys were laser focused and I am so proud of them."
The Briar Jumpers scored in five of their six at bats with a big five-run inning in the fifth frame and four more in the top of the sixth to put the game away early.
While Kade Grundy was the hero on the mound in the Jumpers' district opening-round win over Pulaski County, he did his talking at the plate in the district championship game against the Rockets. Grundy hit a homer, a double, a single, got on base safely on all five at bats, and drove in three runs. Grundy, who hit for the cycle last week, was just a triple short on Tuesday night. The Rock pitchers put Grundy on base with walks in his last two at bats.
Chance Stayton had two doubles, a single, and drove in two runs. Gavin Stephens had two hits and drove in four runs. Pancho Zaragoza, who was just recently released to play after a football knee injury, had two hits, drove in two runs and scored two runs.
"Kade (Grundy) got the big hit early, and Chance (Stayton) got the big hit and we sort of got snowballing," Coach Grundy stated. "Poncho (Zaragoza) had huge hits we needed, Cole Reynolds had huge hits we needed. We had some timely hitting, and everyone is running low on pitching this time of the year. I am proud of our guys and we needed this district championship."
"I have been on the other side of that (mercy rule) and it is no fun in a post-season game," Grundy admitted. "It feels good today."
After going through two pitchers - Kade Grundy and Jonathan Phipps - in their 13-inning game against Pulaski County, Jumper sophomore Dylan Burton took the mound and pitched flawless in the district championship tilt. Burton threw over 100 pitches in 5.1 innings, gave up one run, six hits, and struck out eight batters.
"You can't say enough about Dylan Burton," Grundy stated. "He went out there and pitched well after struggling against them (Rockcastle) earlier in the year. I pulled him after 100 pitches, and he pitched great."
Somerset scored a run in the first inning when Stephens singled through the center of the infield to score Grundy.
In the second frame, Somerset scored two more runs. Grundy doubled off the right field wall to score Dakota Acey. Cam Ryan singled up the middle to score Grundy.
The Briar Jumpers scored two runs in the fourth inning off Grundy's two-run homer to right field to plate Zaragoza.
In the fifth inning, Somerset put five runs on the board to put the contest out of hand. Acey doubled to center to score Matt Shadoan - who was running for Burton. Zaragoza singled to center field to score Cole Reynolds and Acey. Stephens singled through the right side of the infield to plate Zaragoza and Grundy.
In the sixth frame, Somerset put four runs on the board to put the game at mercy-rule status. Stephens worked a bases-loaded walk to force in Zaragoza. Jaden Bryant, who was running for Grundy, scored on a Rock errant throw to third base. Stayton hit a two-RBI double to the left center gap to bring home Ryan and Stephens.
Somerset will now advance to the 12th Region Baseball Tournament this weekend at Southwestern High School, as the 47th District Tournament champions.
Local players named to the 47th District All-Tournament Team were Alex Acey and Kaleb Adams from Pulaski County; and Chance Stayton, Pancho Zaragoza, Kade Grundy, and Dylan Burton from Somerset.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.