McCracken County’s Luke Seed pitched six innings of shutout, two-hit ball against the most prolific scoring team in the state, and the No. 2 Mustangs made a 1-0 lead stand against No. 1 Louisville Trinity on Friday in their opening-round game of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament.
“Going out, I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous,” Seed, a junior left-hander, said. “I knew my team had my back and I had theirs. I’ve been in that situation all season. I knew (we’d) get some runs up there. We did. We got one. And then we shut them down.”
Trinity (35-5-2), the state’s top-rated team according to the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association poll, scored 317 runs this season (more than 7.5 per game) and, as the team that knocked off defending state champion St. Xavier to win Louisville’s 7th Region, the Rocks were considered the favorite to win the title.
McCracken County (32-5) has won four consecutive 1st Region titles, and Coach Geno Miller said his team’s experience at Whitaker Bank Ballpark played a large role in its ability to handle such a huge early game.
“To be able to be here before and have the expectations before and the routine before … we didn’t put a lot of runs on the board, but we were very confident throughout the day,” Miller said. “When we drew the 7th Region, we knew whoever came out of there was going to be very competitive. … I tip my hat to their guy. He threw a great game.”
Rocks starter Brandon Pfaadt (9-2) did not make it easy for McCracken. The senior right-hander struck out 12 and allowed only three hits, but the two that came in the second inning sealed the team’s fate.
James Michael Dodd led off the second with a double. With pinch-runner Dalton Eads in his place, Pfaadt struck out the next two batters. Kiael Waldon’s hit through the right side of the infield brought home the game’s only run.
Seed (9-1) struck out eight, walked one and only let a batter get as far as third base. He felt some tightness in his elbow after the sixth and gave way to Caleb Reinhardt who gave up a walk, but induced a grounder to short that ended it. It was Reinhardt’s third save of the season.
“My change-up was working really well and had them fooled. And a lot of times, they’d think the change-up was coming and Coach would call a fastball and I’d blow it by them,” Seed said.
Though McCracken topped the No. 1 team, its next opponent is No. 4 Scott County, which beat Caldwell County 4-0 in a one-hitter. The McCracken-Scott County showdown is Saturday at 6 p.m.
“We know we can’t relax here,” Seed said. “We’ve got to keep going forward, because we’ve still got three games left to win and I know there are huge teams in this just as good as Trinity.”
Pleasure Ridge Park 4, Franklin-Simpson 3: After pitching six relatively quiet innings, Pleasure Ridge Park starter Garrett Schmeltz struggled to close out the game as Franklin-Simpson rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh and placed the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
Panthers reliever David Aguilar came on to get a looping out to second, but then walked the next batter to load the bases.
So, PRP Coach William Miller reinserted Schmeltz (13-1) on the mound. The left-handed Louisville commitment then got a strikeout to close out the win.
Consecutive RBI singles by Jalil Akbar and Reed Blaszczyk and an RBI double by Nick Rucker in the third inning gave Pleasure Ridge Park a lead it would not relinquish. A Matt Cavanaugh RBI double in the fifth inning scored pinch runner Luke Creech to provide the insurance run and stake PRP to a 4-1 lead.