Fourth-ranked Tates Creek exploded for four runs in the seventh inning Saturday to break a 2-2 tie and pulled away for a 6-2 win over Somerset in the KHSAA Semi-State Baseball Tournament at the University of Kentucky’s Kentucky Proud Field.
The bright lights and big reputation of the Commodores didn’t seem to faze the Briar Jumpers, who were making their first semi-state appearance since 2007.
With ace Kade Grundy on the mound, the Briar Jumpers fought and scratched their way to a take a 2-1 lead into the top of the fifth inning, despite only managing two hits off Creek starter Blayne Deaton.
The opportunistic Jumpers got a lead-off walk by Pancho Zaragoza in the third inning.
And one out later tied the game at 1-1 when Cam Ryan laced a line drive single into left field that scooted by the Creek left fielder and rolled to the wall allowing Zaragoza to score all the way from first base.
Ryan went to third on the play and scored two pitches later on a wild pitch to give the Jumpers a 2-1 advantage.
It remained that way until the fifth when Tates Creek evened it up with an unearned run of their own.
Grundy walked lead-off batter Wayne Deaton, then retired the next two batters on strikes.
After consecutive wild pitches moved Deaton to third, it looked like the Jumpers were going to get out of the inning, but the next batter, Grant Stone, reached base when shortstop Cole Reynolds’ throw was just wide of first allowing Deaton to score and tie it at 2-2.
Grundy scattered seven hits over the first three innings, but held the Commodores in check by recording seven of his game-best 10 strikeout during that time.
“We ran into a great team tonight. Kade competed. He had 10 strikeouts, three walks,” Somerset coach Phil Grundy said. “Our big issue tonight was we didn’t swing the bats and put some pressure on them. We took some fast balls. The moment was a little big for some of these guys and we let it snowball defensively a little bit on us.”
It remained that way until the seventh when the Commodores blew the game open with four runs to close out the win.
Despite the loss, Grundy said he was proud of his team’s effort.
“I feel bad for out three seniors that we couldn’t take them on to the finals. But we have a lot of kids back on the roster next year and this experience is something we can build on,” Grundy said.