When play was halted in the championship game of the 41st District baseball tournament Wednesday, Franklin County led Western Hills 5-4.
When the game was completed Thursday, FCHS had a 5-4 victory at WHHS.
The two teams advance to the 11th Region Tournament, which begins Monday at Western Hills.
“When we left off last night they had a lot of momentum from the big inning they’d had,” said FCHS’ Quenton Brownlee, named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“Coming in today we had to step up and make sure we had more momentum than they did.”
The Flyers led 5-0 after 3½ innings Wednesday, but WHHS pulled within a run after scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth.
“It was huge,” FCHS coach Kevin Goins said of the Flyers’ early lead. “(WHHS starting pitcher) Kyle Fisher has been through the wars, and we knew we were in for a battle.
“Getting the lead early gave us a little breathing room, but after the first inning I told our guys, ‘don’t get cocky, don’t think you have this. It’s going to be a dogfight before it’s over.’”
The score was still 5-4 with one out in the top of the sixth inning when play was called Wednesday because of storms.
“I wasn’t really worried,” Brownlee said about FCHS’ shrinking lead. “I always trust my team, and we trust each other. I felt we could come out with a win.”
Neither team had a hit in the last two innings. The Flyers had two runners on base with two outs on an error and a walk, and WHHS had one base runner in the last two innings with a hit batsman in the seventh.
The Wolverines had all but two of their hits in the fourth inning, when they sent 10 batters to the plate and scored all their runs.
“The pitcher they started (Michael Hurt) had a looping curveball he’d throw in there, and we struggled to stay back on it,” WHHS coach Eric Grubb said.
“The second time through the lineup we hit with a little more confidence, and we really hit better, but almost all our hits were in one inning. I told our guys we have to compete every inning, dictate the pace and put pressure on the other team.”
The Flyers, who are now 14-22, started off the season 1-10.
“If you go out and play to have a good record, when the bright lights come on at the end of the year you don’t know how to react,” Goins said.
“I’m very proud of Rylan (Rowe), Alex (McKinney) and Quenton. They’ve been here day in and day out, and there’s always a little bit of battling senioritis, spring break, prom, but the last two or three days it’s been all baseball.
“They were watching the Western Hills-Frankfort game Tuesday, and usually they’d be chuckling, but they were talking baseball strategy standing by the fence.
“We’ve said all along those three would lead this team, and they took heed of those words at the right time.”
Hurt pitched 3 2/3 innings for the Flyers, and Tanner Walker finished the game in relief.
The Flyers had nine hits — two doubles from Brownlee, two singles each from Rowe and Blake Redmon, a double by Dawson Willis, and singles from McKinney and Matthew Lee.
Fisher went 3 2/3 innings as WHHS’ starting pitcher, followed by Parker Jackson who worked one-third of an inning and Zack Barker who closed out the game pitching the last three innings.
The Wolverines’ hits were a single and double by Thomas Bennett, two singles by Seth Roush, and base hits from Kyle Stevens, Barker, Tyler Anglin, Fisher and Cameron Barton.
Joining Brownlee on the all-tournament team were Rowe, McKinney and Walker of FCHS, Western Hills’ Stevens, Bennett and Jesse Howard, Frankfort High’s Jeff Quire and Dre Scott, and Woodford County’s Eli Boggess and Travis Bingham.
Western Hills and Franklin County begin play in the 11th Region Tournament Monday at WHHS. The Wolverines play Henry Clay in the opener at 10 a.m., and the Flyers play the nightcap, taking on Scott County at 7 p.m.
To see more photos from this game, click here.