LEXINGTON — Western Hills baseball coach Chris Borntraeger knew how most people thought his team would fare against Tates Creek, but he also knew how the Wolverines had been playing lately.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my players, the way they responded and played baseball the last two weeks of the season,” Borntraeger said after WHHS lost to the Commodores 3-2 in the first round of the 11th Region Tournament Sunday at Tates Creek.
“If you asked any other coach in the 11th Region Tournament — or any other coach in the 11th Region, for that matter — if they thought Western Hills had a chance against Tates Creek, they would have said no, and we were in it until the final out.”
The Commodores (29-7) threatened to blow the game open in the first inning, loading the bases with no outs.
A catcher’s interference call scored a run, but WHHS pitcher Brandon Webb struck out the next batter, and Grant Stone flied out to center fielder Jake Hanna, who then threw out Hayden Dunham advancing to third to end the inning.
The score stayed 1-0 until the fourth inning, when Western Hills’ Jerry Brewer singled and Connor Purvis hit a two-out home run down the right field line to put the Wolverines up 2-1.
Tates Creek went ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning with a double, two singles and a wild pitch.
WHHS had seven hits and committed just one error.
“Give them credit,” Borntraeger said of the Commodores. “They say good teams find a way to win. We didn’t beat ourselves; they won it.”
Webb pitched a complete game for WHHS, giving up nine hits, two earned runs and two walks in six innings. He struck out eight batters.
Aspen Combs had two hits for the Wolverines, including a double in the seventh inning. Purvis hit the home run, and Blaine Wood, Brewer, Webb and Skyler Sutton each had a base hit.
“Brandon was again fantastic,” Borntraeger said. “Connor Purvis really drove that ball for the home run. That gave our dugout a jolt. We had a lot of big plays — Jake Hanna with that catch and throw in the first inning, Aspen with the tag on the runner thrown out at second by Connor in the sixth inning, and Aspen with that big double in the seventh inning that gave us a chance to win it.”
Chandler Workman, Colin Burgess and Stone each had two hits for Tates Creek. Workman was the Commodores’ starting pitcher and went five innings, and Stone finished the game in relief.
Tates Creek will play Madison Central Tuesday in the semifinals at Scott County.
WHHS ends the season at 13-20. The Wolverines were on a four-game winning streak before losing the district championship game to Franklin County and Sunday’s loss.
Brewer, Sutton and Andrew Schultz are the seniors on this year’s WHHS team.
“The last two weeks of the season, all we talked about was just play baseball,” Borntraeger said. “Just play baseball. You’ve been doing it since you were 6 years old, and they answered the bell the last two weeks.”