A scoreless pitchers' duel between Meade County's Bo Wilson and Calloway County's Dylan Dwyer came down to the bottom of the seventh inning, with two outs and two strikes on the batter.
The classic scenario had a dramatic ending in the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Tuesday afternoon.
Andrew Zabel raced home from third to score the winning run on a wild pitch by Dwyer to give Meade County a 1-0 victory.
An exhilarating victory; a devastating defeat.
"A great game by both teams," Wilson said.
Both pitchers turned in stellar complete games.
Wilson, a senior right-hander who's headed to the Air Force Academy, gave up two hits, struck out six and walked one to improve to 10-2.
"Bo's not going to overpower you," Coach Todd Clanton said, "but he throws a lot of off-speed pitches, hits his locations, and he feels like he can beat anybody."
Dwyer, a senior lefty who has signed with Kentucky, gave up two hits, struck out 13 and walked seven while taking his first loss in 12 decisions this year.
"He gave us a performance like he's given us every day for two years," Calloway County Coach Zach Hobbs said. "He gave us a chance to win, and that's all you can ask from your starting pitcher."
Meade County's winning rally began with Zabel's leadoff single. After a sacrifice moved Zabel to second, Dwyer intentionally walked Wilson at the top of the Green Wave order.
Dwyer fanned the next batter for the second out.
With Brady Smith at the plate, Dwyer threw a breaking ball in the dirt that allowed Zabel to move to third.
With two strikes on Smith, Dwyer went to his "out" pitch — his curve. He got the strikeout, but the ball broke into the dirt and bounded away from catcher Caleb Brannon. Zabel scored easily from third, and there was no throw to first to try to get Smith.
"That's baseball," Hobbs said. "Just a bad break."
Henderson County 10, North Oldham 0: Henderson County forgot to pack its batting helmets for the trip to Lexington, but it brought everything else necessary — pitching, hitting and defense — to the state tournament.
Led by the strong pitching of Sam Higgs and the power hitting of Avery Pitt, the Colonels crushed North Oldham 10-0 in Tuesday's opening first-round game.
"Hard to play much better than that," Henderson County Coach Nathan Isenberg said.
As for the missing helmets, Isenberg had no explanation other than they should've been on the checklist. "It's never perfect. That's high school baseball," he said.
The Colonels borrowed helmets from North Oldham in the first inning. Calloway County, which played after Henderson County, offered its helmets, too. The Colonels used Lexington Legends' headgear most of the day.
Higgs, a junior right-hander, gave up two hits, struck out five and walked one in the five-inning mercy-rule game.
"Higgs was outstanding," Isenberg said. "And it was nice to get him out of there after five. Now he's eligible (to pitch again) Thursday, Friday or Saturday."
Pitt provided pop at the plate with five RBI. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior had a two-run double in the fourth inning, and he smashed a three-run double in the fifth.
Pitt said the Colonels don't want to find their missing helmets, not after having good luck with the borrowed ones.
"In baseball, you've gotta be superstitious," he said.
Newport Central Catholic 3, Pleasure Ridge Park 2: Connor Bartels stymied No. 17 PRP on three hits to lead NewCath into the quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
Bartels had eight strikeouts and walked one.
The Thoroughbreds lost to PRP in the quarters last year.
NewCath jumped ahead 2-0 in its first at-bat, taking advantage of Hunter Johnson's shaky start. Johnson walked Brady Hightchew and Dom Pangallo, and Nick Wolterman blistered a triple to the gap in left-center.
NewCath added a run in the third on Josh Cain's two-out RBI single.
PRP, whose anemic offense has been a problem all season, got a pair of runs in the third. Blake Stewart singled, Josh Beams was hit by a pitch and freshman Alex Miller had a run-scoring single.
With two outs, Johnson hit a sky-scraping infield pop-up that was dropped, allowing Beams to score and cut the Thoroughbreds' lead to 3-2.
But Bartels blanked PRP the rest of the way to pick up his eighth win of the season.
North Oldham 000 00— 0 2 1
Henderson Co. 021 25—10 9 0
Vince Lewis, Evan Cripe (5), Adam Judd (5) and Adam Sterrett. Sam Higgs and Andrew Richmond. 2B--Avery Pitt, 2 (HC) 3B--Justin Cessna (HC).
Records—North Oldham, 15-17; Henderson Co. 26-13-1
Calloway Co. 000 000 0—0 2 1
Meade Co. 000 000 1—1 2 0
Dylan Dwyer and Caleb Brannon. Bo Wilson and Brady Smith.
Records—Calloway Co. 32-7-1; Meade Co. 26-9
Newport Catholic 201 000 0—3 3 1
Pleasure Ridge Park 002 000 0—2 3 0
Connor Bartels and Kevin Hofffstedder. Hunter Johnson and Joe Hatcher. 3B--Nick Wolterman (NC)
Records—NewCath 25-16-1; PRP 29-12
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com