|Tribe ends season in 8-inning thriller
By Dan Manley
Advocate Sports Editor
Valiant efforts often end in defeat.
But valiant efforts that end in defeat often reap long lasting results and are not easily forgotten.
The Montgomery County Indians fell victim to a late-inning comeback Saturday at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington.
The Beechwood Tigers, now 38-1 on the season, twice came from behind and then pushed across a run in the eighth inning for their first lead of the game and made it stand up for a 4-3 victory in the Sectional Baseball Tournament, the equivalent of the opening round of the Kentucky State High School Baseball Tournament.
“Our guys left nothing on the field,” said Coach Chris Varney. “We played against a strong competitor, could have easily won as lost and that’s the way you want high school games to be.
“I’m sad for our guys, who have worked so hard, but really proud of the things we’ve accomplished and the manner in which they played the game.
One could not say the Indians dominated the game through the early innings, but they did control the game.
Junior Seth Adams, uncharacteristically struggled with the strike zone early in the game but worked out of those situations as the Tribe took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning.
“I thought Seth was our best choice, in part, because it gave us a chance to use Tyler (Jacobs) in the outfield in certain situations,” Varney said.
“I knew that Seth would throw the ball over the plate and I knew he’d be ready. These kids are competitors and that gave us a great chance against a very good baseball team.”
In each of the first three innings the Tigers had two runners on and Adams left them stranded.
In the fourth inning, Jackson Noll led off with a double for the Tigers but Ty Eads made a running grab of a line drive in center and Tyler Jacobs, after slightly misjudging a drive into right-center, made a great catch of another line drive to end that inning.
Meanwhile, the Indians were opportunistic on offense.
Beechwood right-hander Carter Noah came into the game with a 1.55 earned run average in 67 innings this season.
Jay Eads was hit by a pitch leading off the second inning and the went to third when Noah threw wildly to first on a pick-off attempt.
He came in to score when Adams grounded out to the shortstop near the second base bag and had no chance to make a play at home.
In the bottom of the fourth inning Luke Fuller led off with a double into the left-field corner.
After the next two batters were retired, Adams again helped his own cause with a single to right-center that delivered the Tribe’s second run.
The Tribe went on to load the bases but couldn’t add on another run and that opened the door for Beechwood to tie things up in the top of the fifth.
Logan Castleman was hit by a pitch and took second on a wild pitch. Devin Johnson was intentionally walked with one out and Dylan Doversprite singled to load the bases with a run scoring on Fuller’s throwing error at second.
Then Marcus Bergen singled to tie the game.
Adams then came through with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning with the score tied.
The Indians regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Jay Eads doubled with two outs and was awarded third base on interference as he made the turn at second.
He scored on a wild pitch to put the Tribe back into the lead at 3-2.
Adams then walked and Ty Eads hit a line shot that third basemen Jackson Noll went down on his knees to spear to end the inning.
Adams got the first out of the seventh on a ground to Brandon Dyer at short but then Devin Johnson singled to left-center and Dylan Doversport walked.
Marcus Bergen came through again with a run-scoring single, just off the glove of the diving Trevor Igo to tie the game.
That caused Varney to bring in junior left-hander Jacobs who rang up back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
Montgomery County looked as if they might end things in the bottom of the seventh.
Braxton Hunley was hit by a pitch to start the inning and the Montgomery County catcher avoided being picked off first base with a great escape in a rundown.
Trevor Igo would sacrifice Hunley to second and then Meier Patrick came in to run for Hunley.
Tyler Jacobs was intentionally walked and that brought sophomore Brandon Dyer to the plate.
Dyler singled back in the first inning and lined out to third in the fifth.
But he hit a sharp grounder to the shortstop near the second base bag and even against the speedy Dyer he was able to turn it into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth Preston Hamilton opened the inning with an infield hit but Jacobs picked him off first.
John Odom singled and stole second and then Logan Castleman got a base hit to score Odom and give Beechwood their first lead of the game.
Jacobs ended the inning on a couple of grounders.
Right-hander Brett Holladay came on in relief of Noah in the bottom of the eighth and after Montgomery County’s Devin Johnson (same name as the Tiger’s left-fielder) singled with one out he recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
“I felt like they could really hurt us hitting the ball in the gaps,” Varney said in reference to his use of four outfielders when the top part of the order was up.
The Tigers ended up with nine hits, but the double by Jackson Noll in the fourth hit near the left-field foul line and bounded off the turf and landed up in the stands for a ground rule extra-base hit.
“This was a great run and we were right there with a chance to win,” Varney added.
“I can’t say enough about the tremendous support of the community. The fire and police departments and the fans lining the streets when we left town. And what a crowd we brought to Kentucky Proud Park.”
The Indians finished the season with a 28-7 record while Beechwood moved on to the round of eight this week with a 38-1 record.