High school baseball fans got their money’s worth at the Rawlings/KHSAA State Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Friday night.
After a grueling game that featured an epic pitchers’ duel, Scott County’s Cooper Robb came to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning and connected on a line drive to center field to give the Cardinals a 1-0 walk-off win over Caldwell County.
“I was just looking for a pitch either high or around my belt so I could drive it,” said Robb. “It felt great. I didn’t know if it was gonna get down, but I knew it was gonna score the run and that’s all I cared about.”
There were so many MVP-caliber performances for Scott County in the first-round game, it’d be hard to pick just one. Was it the freshman hurler who worked out of multiple jams over seven scoreless innings? The senior first baseman who might have saved the season with a diving stop on defense? Or sophomore shortstop Robb with his walk-off single?
All were integral to the first state baseball tournament win in Scott County’s history.
Jordan Fox drew the start for the Cardinals. He scattered five hits over seven innings, striking out 10 and walking three, but his mettle was tested. After giving up a double to Luke Brown in the first inning, Fox escaped with a strikeout and groundout. He stranded two Caldwell County runners in each of the second, third and fourth innings and allowed just one more hit through the seventh.
“Jordan has a ton of composure for a freshman,” Scott County Coach Scott Willard said. “He’s been really good for us all year. He gave us a no-decision tonight, but seven shutout innings, what else could we ask of him?”
Caldwell County starting pitcher Shane Burns kept the Cardinals’ bats at bay all night. He tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out eight before giving way to Luke Brown and enjoying a loud ovation from the crowd.
Brown got the last two outs as the game went to extra innings.
After a walk and a hit batter, Scott County reliever Brian Thorn was pulled for Cam Hill. Noah Brown moved the runners to second and third for the Tigers with a sacrifice bunt, bringing Burns to the plate with two outs. He sent a drive screaming down the first-base line, but Scott County senior Trey Ogle snagged the ball on the hop, robbing the Tigers of two runs.
“When I saw it, I knew it was a shot and I knew it was on the line,” said Ogle. “And like coach had just told me, if anything comes by you’ve got to lay out and sacrifice yourself for your teammates.”
The Cardinals’ fan section erupted as the team returned to the dugout, and Ogle sensed the tide was finally turning.
“It was a big momentum change,” he said. “You could tell it kind of got everybody back up and there was new life in the dugout. I’m just glad we got out of there.”
Trey Binder drew a walk to begin the bottom of the eighth, and Ogle moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Ryan Hannabach followed with another walk, and the runners advanced to second and third on a pickoff attempt that bounced into center field. Braden Kopp was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Robb’s heroics.
“This feels good but I don’t want to be done yet,” said Ogle. “I want to win three more.”
Josh Sullivan; 859-231-3225
Saturday’s quarterfinals at Whitaker Bank Ballpark
11 a.m.: West Jessamine (32-8) vs. St. Xavier (27-12)
1:30 p.m.: McCracken Co. (36-5) vs. Johnson Central (33-9)
6 p.m.: Bullitt East (27-10) vs. Scott Co.
8:30 p.m.: Hazard (30-11) vs. Campbell Co.-Ohio Co. winner