Somerset High School senior Alex Ham (center) is mobbed by his Brair Jumper teammates - Dakota Acey, Pancho Zaragoza and Logan Purcell - after Ham scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 13 inning in Somerset's 2-1 win over Pulaski County in the opening round of the 47th District Baseball Tournament on Sunday.

When Somerset and Pulaski County take to the playing field - in any sport - you can always count on a battle until the end.

In a game that started on Saturday at 5 p.m. and ended 13 innings later on Sunday at 9 p.m., the Somerset-Pulaski County 47th District Tournament first-round baseball game was one for the record books. In the bottom of the 13th inning, Somerset freshman Cole Reynolds hit a single into right center field to score senior Alex Ham from second base, to give the Briar Jumpers the 2-1 win.

Alex Ham opened the bottom of the 13th inning with a base hit, and reached second base off a Dylan Burton sacrifice bunt. Reynolds hit a base hit to right center field. Reynolds' single was fielded cleanly by Maroons outfielder Ross Shurmard, who made a good throw to home plate. However, Ham just reached the plate in the nick of time for the extra-inning, game-winning score.

"This was the longest game I have ever played in, but we had to keep playing through it and pull it out somehow," Somerset freshman Cole Reynolds stated after hitting the game winner. "I think we were all trying to hit the ball deep and be the hero, but I just tried to get the ball on plane and put it in play."

Both coaches stated it was a game that neither team deserved to lose, but one did and it was a heart-breaking season-ending loss for the Maroons. The win advanced Somerset (18-12) to the 47th District Tournament championship game on Tuesday, May 21, against Rockcastle County. Meanwhile, Pulaski County's season ended in the opening round of the district tournament and an overall season record of 12-15.

"Neither team lost this game today, and both teams deserved to win," Somerset baseball coach Phil Grundy stated. "Thankfully we got the win and get to move on, but I think the world of Josh Anderson and his Pulaski County program."

After the tough season-ending loss, Pulaski County High School baseball coach Josh Anderson was pleased with the way his team played on Sunday night, and all season long.

"You always want your team to have fight and that is what you work for all season," Anderson stated. "For the last couple years we have come into this district tournament with a lot of fight, and I am really proud of these guys tonight."

"We have had our 'ups and downs' this season, but I do appreciate our guys rising to the occasion when they had to," Anderson added. "The way they played tonight, made me and our entire coaching staff feel good."

After only a half of the opening inning was completed on Saturday before a rain storm suspended the game until Sunday.

The first four inning were scoreless as Somerset sophomore pitcher Kade Grundy and Pulaski County sophomore hurler Kaleb Adams were both flawless on the mound.

In the bottom of the third frame, Somerset had runners on second and third with no outs and a Kade Grundy fly out to right field looked as if it would bring home Dakota Acey from third on a tag. But Maroons right fielder Ross Shumard threw a bullet for the out at the plate.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Somerset finally got a run across the plate when Gavin Stephens singled to centerfield to score Matt Shadoan - who was courtesy running for Grundy. However, on the same play Somerset base runner Cam Ryan was called out trying to advance to third base to end the inning.

Somerset's 1-0 lead didn't last for long, as Pulaski County countered with a run in the top of the sixth inning. Pulaski junior singled to centerfield, and Adams scored from first base on a series of Somerset fielding miscues.

The game stayed tied at 1-1 for the next seven frames until Reynolds hit the game-winner in the bottom of the 13th. Even after starting pitchers Grundy and Adams were pulled from the game after reaching their pitch counts, Somerset reliever Jonathan Phipps and Pulaski County's Alex Acey pitched just as strong.

Somerset's Kade Grundy pitched eight innings and 102 pitches, striking 14 batters and only allowing five hits and no earned runs. Jonathan Phipps pitched five innings and 77 pitches, striking out five batters, allowing only two hits and no runs.

Pulaski County's Kaleb Adams pitched five innings and 76 pitches, striking out three batters, allowing five hits and one run scored. Alex Acey pitched 7.1 innings and 117 pitches, striking out two batters, allowing five hits and one run. 

"I thought our two pitchers did everything they could possibly do to keep us in this game," Anderson stated. " We made good plays and Somerset made good plays. This was just a back-n-forth game, and probably one of the best district game you will ever see. It was just a hard-fought battle by both teams."

Both teams had their chances to put the game away.

Pulaski County loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but could not score. In the 11th inning with Aiden Wesley on second base, Shumard was robbed of a base hit by Briar Jumper second baseman Cam Ryan. In the 13th inning, lead-off Konner Hargis reached base after getting hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a Jace Lancaster sacrifice bunt, but the next two batters went down swinging to end the inning.

Somerset loaded the bases in the sixth inning but failed to score on a deep putout by Maroons shortstop Kaleb Adams. In the ninth inning, Somerset had a runner on second with one out but a Pulaski County defensive line out double play ended the inning. In the 12th inning, Somerset had a runner on third base with one out, but Pulaski pitcher Alex Acey retired the next two batters to end the inning.

"I was disappointed in our offense and I am sure Josh (Anderson) was in his too, but survive and advance is all it is about at this level," Grundy stated. "We worked hard all year and we are going back to the drawing board because we are not going to win many games in the region if we keep popping the ball up like we did tonight."

For Pulaski County, Kaleb Adams and Colton Fraley had two hits each. For Somerset, Cam Ryan and Alex Ham had two hits each.

Steve Cornelius has worked as a journalist at the Commonwealth Journal since 2001, and has been the CJ Sports Editor since 2005.

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