The Franklin County Flyers blew a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the bottom of the seventh inning, and wasted a superb showing by senior pitcher Michael Hurt in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Anderson County Bearcats Tuesday night.
Josh Brown’s two-run home run in the fourth inning proved to be the winning blow for the Bearcats, who improved to 13-11.
Coach Kevin Goins’ Flyers (12-22) struggled to hit against a pair of Anderson County pitchers — starter Conor Cotton (4 2/3 innings) and reliever Brett Thompson — scattering just seven hits.
But it looked like the Flyers were going to get away with it in the seventh as they loaded the bases against Thompson.
Dawson Willis reached on an infield single to open the inning for FCHS, Blake Redmon singled to right center, and those two advanced to second and third thanks to an errant pickoff throw by Thompson.
The Bearcats then intentionally walked Michael Clark to load the bases.
But Matthew Lee then flied to right, Alden Gatewood popped out to Thompson, and designated hitter Ryan Staples flied to center to end the game.
“To be standing here saying we didn’t at least tie it up, that’s tough,” Goins said. “A week and a half ago we probably win this game, but that’s the nature of the beast. The guys that were carrying us during that seven-game (win) stretch have hit a little cold streak.”
Hurt, meanwhile, put on another fascinating exhibition of resourceful pitching, consistently lofting the ball towards the plate, often seeing the ACHS hitters lunge at the ball as it fell off the table at the last second.
“He makes pitches, gets them out on their front feet, and makes them uncomfortable, and good things happen,” Goins said of Hurt, who finished with a complete-game five hitter, with six strikeouts and no walks.
Goins said Trinity clocked Hurt in the 50s on the speed gun in an earlier scrimmage.
“I’m assuming that would be his curve ball,” Goins said wryly. “He might be in the upper 60s — lower 70s if he’s lucky.”
But it was the Bearcats who had the Flyers on their emotional heels most of the way.
Anderson County took a 1-0, first-inning edge when Brandon Eliadis singled home Dusty Puckett. Puckett had opened the inning with a single.
Brown’s home run to left drove in Brice Stockton in the fourth to extend the visitor’s lead to 3-0. Stockton had reached with a two-out single.
The Flyers chipped away for single runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
Gatewood doubled home Clark in the fourth after Clark had walked. And in the sixth, Lee opened with a walk and ended up scoring on a single by Quenton Brownlee.
Rylan Rowe, Clark and Staples also had a single hit apiece for Franklin County —all singles.
Max Crabtree had the only other Anderson County hit, also a single.
Goins said his Flyers have generally enjoyed good pitching and defense in recent weeks, but they have only two games left before the district tournament to heal their woes on offense.
And one of those remaining games — today’s scheduled 8 p.m. game at Danville — is a likely rain-out.
The Flyers are also scheduled to play Friday night at Dunbar before taking on Woodford County Tuesday in the district semifinals.
“We want to show well if we get to play these next two games, but next Tuesday is when it’s important,” Goins said. “We just want to get these guys back confident and swinging it well.”
The Bearcats are slated to host Washington County Thursday at 6, East Jessamine Friday at 6 and Woodford County Saturday at noon.