“It was just a gut feeling. It’s just part of baseball, trying to get some things going,” West coach Jody Hamilton said. “Sometimes in a tight game like this, people are a little nervous early in the game. It worked.”
East’s Billy Russell scored from second base on a single to center field by Kyle Peel in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game up. Russell reached base on the double to left field.
West picked up another run in the top of the second; Tyler Adams tripled to right field, scoring Tyler Ward. East came right back in the bottom half; Jacob Overstreet doubled to lead off the inning, and Settles move him down to third base with a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Sam Hall doubled to left center, scoring Overstreet with ease.
The Jaguars were able to take their first lead of the night in the bottom of the third inning. Baldwin, the leadoff hitter, did his job, reaching base on a single to left field. He moved up to second on a bunt single by Russell and on to third via a fielder’s choice. Baldwin scored on an error, giving East a 3-2 advantage.
West’s starting pitcher, Josh Carroll, who allowed three runs on six hits and a walk in three innings of work, was pulled going into the bottom of the fourth inning and replaced by Trey Merida. Carroll also struck out five and picked a runner off first base.
“I didn’t think (Carroll) was very sharp,” Hamilton said. “In a game like this, you can’t let it get out of hand. I just didn’t think he was very sharp.”
Merida, an eighth-grader, allowed five runs on four hits and struck out four during his three innings on the hill.
Although Merida was sharp overall, he and the West defense were knocked around a bit in the fourth inning. Hall reached second base on an error in center field to starting the inning. West retired the next two batters, but another error allowed Hall to score and Russell to reach second.
“We had the one bad inning defensively that really killed us ... it cost us four runs, and that’s the ball game,” Hamilton said.
Kyle Peel came through with the first of his two big hits on the night. The junior drove in Russell to make it a 5-2 game. Orion Howard followed with another single to put runners on first and second with two outs. Overstreet took a 1-0 pitch and drove it up the middle to center field scoring Russell and Howard. West finally got out of the inning down 7-2.
With some work to do on offense, Adams led off the top of the fifth for West with a hit to right field. He was able to advance to second after the ball got past the right fielder. James hit a routine grounder to short, but the throw to first was high, allowing Adams to score. With one out, and James on second, Huston Barber took the first pitch he saw and launched it over the wall in left-center field, cutting the lead to 7-5.
Baldwin rebounded with the next batter, forcing a ground ball to get the second out, and eventually got out of the inning with out giving up any more runs.
Merida was fully settled in by the bottom of the fifth, sitting the Jags down in order.
Peel delivered again in the sixth for East Jessamine. He belted a solo home run to left field, putting the Jags up 8-5.
“Wow, that (home run) was huge. That means (West) has to get at least two extra hits to match that run. We wanted at least one more run because that’s more hits they have to get,” Hill said.
Trailing by three heading into their final turn at bat, the Colts got off to a good start as Barber hammered another home run to left center, pulling West within two. Dunn and Blake Davis followed with back-to-back singles, forcing East to go to its bullpen and Connor Lindsey. Lindsey issued a walk to Ward to load the bases with no outs.
“I don’t know if it was the cold weather, but (his chest) started to bother him again. The last two innings Forrest was not himself,” Hill said. “I knew something was wrong and he was hurting; I could tell.”