Logan Wyatt swung the momentum with one swing, and Jacob Kelly toughed it out on the mound to lead North Bullitt past Conner 4-3 in the quarterfinals of the Rawlings/KHSAA State Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark Thursday night.
North Bullitt's 30th win of the season — and its 17th in its last 18 games — earned it a spot in the final four for the first time in school history.
"It's pretty special, pretty special," Eagles Coach Brian Wise said. "When you get in this business this is something you dream about."
Conner took a 3-0 lead in the third on Blake Hart's three-run double. The Cougars looked in control as junior righthander Blaise Ostertag blanked North Bullitt on two hits through three innings.
But Wyatt turned things around in the fourth. After Justin Stinson drew a lead-off walk, the left-handed swinging Wyatt cranked a high-flying homer over the right-field wall to make it 3-2.
"That was a big momentum changer for us," Blake said. "I can't thank Logan enough."
North Bullitt tied it in the fifth. Keaton Reitz reached on a fielder's choice, went to second on a groundout, to third on a wild pitch and scored when Stinson legged out an infield hit with two outs.
The Eagles nudged across the go-ahead run in the sixth when Josh Exton's single up the middle drove in pinch-runner Chase McKenzie. He was running for Blake, who had a lead-off single.
"Home runs are rarities for us," Wise said. "Small ball is what we do."
Blake went the distance despite developing a blister on his middle finger in the fifth inning. He threw 115 pitches, gave up seven hits, struck out eight and walked three.
"He said there was no way he was coming out," Wise said. "He's a great competitor."
Simon Kenton 1, Hazard 0 (10 innings): The Pioneers prevailed in the marathon quarterfinal that was suspended Wednesday night in the seventh inning.
Grant Wassom was hit by a pitch with two outs in the 10th, stole second, then raced home on Tyler Smith's single to left-center field.
"I wasn't stopping. (Coach Troy Roberts) was waving me the whole way," Wassom said. "But I was going regardless."
Roberts wasn't surprised Wassom scored on the play.
"He had a great jump and he's one of our quicker guys," Roberts said. "I wouldn't have blamed him if he'd run through my stop sign if I'd put one up. That's Grant. He's a gamer, he's a competitor."
Hazard Coach John Meehan felt bad for his players.
"I know their hearts will never quit breaking. But I've coached for 20 years, and this team maybe had the biggest heart of all," he said.
Robert said he doubted anybody was ever going to score after the game stretched into extra innings: "I thought we were going to play until tomorrow."
Pitching ruled for both sides. Simon Kenton starter Robert Smith went six innings Wednesday before Sean Lawrence took over in relief. Lawrence pitched two innings on Thursday before giving way to Garrett Ainsworth.
The trio limited Hazard to five hits, struck out eight and walked three. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but a pop-out killed that threat.
Hazard freshman Ryan Smith blanked Simon Kenton for 62⁄3 innings on Wednesday. He gave up four hits and struck out eight. Coby Cumbow did the pitching for the Bulldogs on Thursday, and gave up three hits.
Meehan was impressed by Simon Kenton's resolve.
"Heck, you might be looking at the next state champion," he said.
St. Xavier 6, Johnson Central 3: The No. 3 Tigers, the last ranked team in the tournament, overcame an early 3-1 deficit to reach the semifinals for the second time in four years.
Johnson Central, which knocked off No. 1 Tates Creek in the first round, couldn't pull off a second upset.
After St. X took a 1-0 lead in the second, the Golden Eagles answered with three in the bottom of the inning. Geordan Blanton and Bo Robbins each singled, and Chaynse Hill drove them in with a double to right-center. Hill eventually scored on Blake Gamble's sacrifice fly.
St. X got to Golden Eagles' starter Josh Hitchcock in the third. Hayden Ford's two-run double, and Josh Finerty's one-run double helped the Tigers take a 5-3 lead.
St. X made it 6-3 in the fifth with two more doubles, another by Ford and one by Miles Lee.
That was enough backing for Tigers' starter Cam Revelette. The junior righthander worked six innings, struck out four and walked none to run his record to 8-1.
Scott Spurlock closed the seventh for St. X.
St. X faces North Bullitt in Friday night's semifinals. The Tigers lost to eventual champion Central Hardin in 2011.
SIMON KENTON 1, HAZARD 0 (10)
Hazard 000 000 000 0—0 5 2
Simon Kenton 000 000 000 1—1 7 1
Ry. Smith, Cumbow (7) and Ratliff; Ro. Smith, Lawrence (7), Ainsworth (10) and Mundy. W—Ainsworth (2-0). L—Cumbow (4-3). 2B—Mundy (SK).
Records: Simon Kenton 24-16, Hazard 27-14.
SOUTH LAUREL 4, SOUTH WARREN 1
Conner 003 000 0—3 7 1
North Bullitt 000 211 x—4 7 1
Ostertag and Hart; Kelly and Egnor. W—Kelly (9-1). L—Ostertag (3-4). 2B—Hart (SL). HR—Wyatt (NB).
Records: North Bullitt 30-10, Conner 26-10.
SAINT XAVIER 6, JOHNSON CENTRAL 3
St. Xavier 014 010 0—6 6 0
Johnson Central 030 000 0—3 6 1
Cam Revelette, Scott Spurlock (7) and Dalton Dedas. Josh Hitchcock, Seth Blanton (4), Juwan Mayes (6) and Blake Gamble. 2B—Hayden Ford, 2 (SX), Josh Finerty (SX), Chanyse Hill, 2 (JC), Miles Lee (SX).
Record—St. X 28-10; Johnson Central 31-11