Franklin County’s baseball team was in a tight battle with Scott County through seven innings Monday in the 11th Region Tournament.
In the top of the eighth inning, with the game tied at 2-2, Scott County came up with four runs to take a 6-2 victory at Western Hills.
The Cardinals (26-9) will play Madison Central tonight at 8 in the second semifinal with WHHS and Tates Creek squaring off in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
FCHS and Scott County were on even terms for most of the game. Both teams had six hits, and they both had five strikeouts.
But the Flyers (14-23) committed six errors, and only one of Scott County’s runs was earned.
“Obviously we didn’t make the routine plays we did during our seven-game win streak or throughout the district tournament,” said FCHS assistant coach Kris Trautwein.
“I told the guys after the game it had nothing to do with preparation, it had nothing to do with the intensity they played with. It’s baseball. You can go out and prepare, prepare, prepare, and sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way.”
It was Franklin County that scored first Monday, putting up a run in the bottom of the first inning.
Quenton Brownlee reached on a two-base error and scored on a single by Dawson Willis.
The Cardinals tied the game in the second inning with a single by Chase Martin and an error.
The score stayed 1-1 until the fifth inning when Scott County took a brief 2-1 lead with a walk, a sacrifice bunt, a single by Malik Wilson and an error.
“Even when we made an error we didn’t put our heads down,” Trautwein said. “We kept going, kept fighting.”
The Flyers answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Alden Gatewood led off with a double, and Ryan Staples bunted for a single that sent Gatewood to third.
After a groundout to shortstop for the first out, Brownlee was intentionally walked to load the bases.
A strikeout accounted for the second out, but Willis walked to bring home Gatewood with the tying run, and a fly ball ended the inning.
Scott County threatened in the sixth when a single, an error and walk loaded the bases with two outs, but Blake Redmon came on to pitch and struck out Wilson to leave the bases loaded.
Both teams went out in order in the seventh inning, sending the game to an extra inning.
In the eighth the Cardinals scored four runs on a double by Martin, singles by Luke Lemons and Matt Malesick, an intentional walk and two errors.
Willis and Redmon hit back-to-back one-out singles for FCHS in the bottom of the eighth inning, but a fly ball and a fielder’s choice left the runners stranded.
“When you start a season 4-17, when you have a six-game stretch where you score one run, you get to the point where a lot of teams would lay down,” Trautwein said, “but this is the most resilient team I’ve ever been a part of.
“They kept playing, and they figured it out toward the end of the season. They won their first district tournament since 2009, and they fought hard. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Brownlee was FCHS’ starting pitcher and went 5 2/3 innings. Redmon pitched 1 2/3 innings, and Michael Hurt pitched two-thirds of an inning.
“Q (Brownlee) hasn’t pitched in this kind of humidity,” Trautwein said, “and it got to him pretty quick, but he gutted it out and did great. He gave us everything he had. I’m proud of Q.
“Then Blake comes in with the bases loaded and two outs and gets the strikeout. That’s big for a sophomore. Michael Hurt came in and gave us everything he’s got. He did what we asked of him. He threw strikes, but we didn’t make plays.”
FCHS’ hits were two singles by Willis and Redmon, a double by Gatewood and a single by Staples.
Lucas Mudd pitched a complete game for Scott County. Martin hit a double and single to lead the offense, and Tanner Blankenship, Wilson, Malesick and Lemons each had a base hit.
When the two teams met March 28, Scott County beat FCHS 13-0 in five innings.
“This game says a lot about how far this team has come,” Trautwein said. “They weren’t afraid of playing a team in the top 20. They were there toe to toe with them, and they proved they belonged in the 11th Region Tournament.”
To see more photos from the game, click here.