The Franklin County Flyers have shown signs of turning their baseball season around recently, winning four straight games and five of six, after a 1-11 start to the season.
But nothing validated coach Kevin Goins’ Flyers quite like Thursday’s 6-2 victory over coach Mac Whitaker’s traditionally powerful Harrison County Thorobreds.
Senior pitcher Quenton Brownlee pitched a complete game, giving up just two hits, and the Flyers jumped on the Thorobreds for all six of their runs in the first inning.
Franklin County improved to 9-18, while Harrison County saw its five-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 17-8.
“We’ve had some quality wins (recently), but Harrison County is a win you can hang your hat on,” Goins said. “Year in and year out, they are quality. Coach Whitaker just celebrated his 1,000th victory last week, so this is a win that speaks volumes.”
Brownlee has anchored Franklin County’s turnaround with a series of strong performances, including a no-hitter against Frankfort High and a shutout victory over district rival Western Hills leading up to Thursday’s gem.
Brownlee said it took him awhile to get in baseball shape after playing basketball this winter.
“I have more speed and more arm strength than at the beginning of the year,” Brownlee said. “I was just coming back from basketball then, so I didn’t have it all there.”
Brownlee said he didn’t have it all there Thursday, either.
“It was not my best today,” Brownlee said. “But I was still dealing, I feel like. I couldn’t really find a breaking pitch, but my fast ball was up there, so it tended to get me out of it.”
Goins said Brownlee was being overly harsh in that assessment.
“Quenton is a typical teenager,” Goins said. “You’re staked to a 6-nothing lead, and you know you’ve had success your last few outings, so you kind of let your feet off the gas a little bit. If it had been a 2-nothing game, he would have had a different gear.”
Offensively, the Flyers slipped into cruise control as the game went on, but that was OK after the six-run first inning — their highest single inning output of the season.
Senior Alex McKinney doubled in the first, and Dawson Willis, Matthew Lee and Blake Redmon had a single apiece in that frame.
“You put six on them in the first inning and then don’t score the rest of the game is a little frustrating,” Goins said. “But like I told the boys, we haven’t scored six runs in an inning this year. So it was unfamiliar territory, and we didn’t know how to handle it.
“You know you’ve got a good team coming in, and you know you’ve got your best on the mound, but you just never know, so when you jump on them for six, you exhale a little bit.”
Redmon added another single later, and Alden Gatewood also singled for the Flyers.
John King hit a two-run home run for the Thorobreds in the fourth to account for their scoring. King drove in Zach Royce, who singled.
Goins readily admitted he top-loaded the Franklin County schedule early-on this spring, and both he and Brownlee said it was just a matter of weathering the storm.
“We started off playing several top 20 teams in the state, but we knew it was all for the long run, the district and region ... getting us ready for that,” Brownlee said. “Now we’re starting to learn how to play more as a team. It’s all starting to work for us now.”