BOWLING GREEN — An outstanding season concluded in heartbreaking fashion for the third-ranked Owensboro Catholic High School baseball team.
After the Aces rallied to force extra innings, 2nd Region champion Lyon County pushed across a run in the top of the eighth to upend Catholic, 4-3, in the KHSAA Semistate 2 game on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon at Western Kentucky University’s Nick Denes Field.
The No. 16 Lyons (29-7) advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round of the KHSAA State Tournament in Lexington. The 3rd Region champion Aces wrap a memorable season at 32-6.
“It was tough,” said OCHS acting head coach Tyler Tichenor. “We couldn’t put the hits together in the early going to get any momentum to build on. Their starting pitcher (Austin Long) did a good job of mixing his pitches and he kept us off-balance some.
“I was proud of the way our guys fought and battled back and didn’t give up. They responded to challenge and got it tied uo, but things didn’t roll our way in the end.”
Travis Yancy opened the eighth inning for Lyon County with a single to left, advancing to second on an outfield error. Jackson Shoulders then delivered his third hit of the game, a single that scored pinch-runner John Bingham with the go-ahead run that made it 4-3.
In the bottom of the eighth, E Munsey singled to center and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hunter Small. J Crabtree then reached on an infield error. Munsey advanced to third on Jamison Wall’s fielder’s choice, but Sam McFarland grounded out to end the game.
“They’re a quality high school baseball team,” Tichenor said of Lyon County, which dropped an 8-7 decision to visiting Catholic on May 15. “Their pitchers did a good job, they got some big hits, and they made all the plays they needed to make.”
Lyon County struck quickly in the top of the first inning against Aces starter Finley Munsey. Leadoff batter Aidan Rush was hit by a pitch and, two outs later, Shoulders singled — setting the table for a two-run triple to the left-center field wall by Gunnar Bingham.
The Lyons added to their lead in the fourth when Christian O’Daniel led off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored when ninth-place hitter Brady Darnall stroked a sharp single to center to make it 3-0.
Owensboro Catholic got one run back working through the heart of its order in the sixth, but the Aces had a chance to get more.
Luke Evans reached on a two-base error and Luke Scales followed with a single to right to make it 3-1. Scales advanced to second when Finley Munsey grounded out to first, but Scales was caught off second and thrown out following Braden Mundy’s infield single.
E Munsey reached on a walk, with prompted the Lyons to bring in Shoulders to relieve Long after 83 pitches.
Mundy and Munsey advanced a base on a wild pitch, but Shoulders fanned Hunter Small to quell the uprising.
The Aces tied it with a clutch rally in the seventh.
With one out, Jamison Wall and McFarland singled before Evans rifled an RBI double down the left field line to score Wall and make it a one-run game. After an intentional walk to Scales, Finley Munsey hit a sacrifice fly to right to tie the contest. Mundy then lined out to center to end the inning.
McFarland and Evans, who reached base four times, each had two hits to pace Catholic’s nine-hit attack.
The junior-laden Aces figure to be back in the mix next spring.
“We need to start from Day One next year and work hard to get where we want to be,” Tichenor said. “We need to keep confidence high in the program and with what we have coming back I don’t see any reason we can’t come back next season and go even further than we did this year.”
LYON COUNTY 200 100 01 — 4 8 2
CATHOLIC 000 001 20 — 3 9 3
WP-Shoulders. LP-Scales. 2B-Evans (OC), O’Daniel (LC). 3B-G. Bingham (LC).