Fifteen games into the 2009 season, Bryan Station's baseball team sported a so-so 9-6 record, but the Defenders wound up almost knocking off eventual state champion Lexington Catholic in the 11th Region finals.
Fifteen games into this season, Bryan Station again has a 9-6 record after beating Scott County 5-4 Wednesday night.
Does this group of Defenders have the same kind of potential as last year's team?
"We can go as far as we want as long as we play together, play hard, trust one another, and go out there and have fun," said senior pitcher Jordan Craig. "Having fun, that's the No. 1 thing."
Winning a close game like Bryan Station did against Scott County, which beat the Defenders 6-3 last week, is the ultimate good time.
"Today was a good day," Coach Eddie Brooks said. "We finally got the big hit and made the big play when we had to have it."
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first on Brady Boling's sacrifice fly, Bryan Station got all of its four hits in the second and generated four runs.
J.R. Halderman, Cameron Hart, Tyler Southworth and Elijah Burdette collected the hits. Hart drove in a run, and Burdette, a freshman, picked up two RBI with a double down the right-field line.
Justice Miley's fielder's choice chased home an alert Burdette, who scored from second with what proved to be the decisive run.
That 5-0 lead proved just enough for the Defenders.
Sophomore left-hander Ryne Combs started on the mound. He gave up a solo homer to Scott County star Luke Wright in the second.
The Cards, who upset No. 2 Lexington Christian earlier this week, erupted for three runs in the third. Colin Fultz's bases-loaded double was the big blow.
Combs then gave up a walk, but he escaped further trouble by getting an inning-ending strikeout.
"Ryne always makes the big pitch when he has to have it," Brooks said.
Craig came on in relief in the fifth and was Mr. Lockdown, a role he played last year, including in the region tournament.
Scott County put two runners on with one out in the seventh, but Craig struck out the last two batters to close out the victory.
"What more can you say about Craig?" Brooks said. "No matter how tight the situation, I've got more confidence in him getting out of it than anybody in America."
Brooks has hopes his team can keep improving, especially when it gets healthy.
Boling, a standout catcher, was hit in the throat by a ball Tuesday night and was relegated to designated hitter against Scott County.
Combs has a wrist injury that keeps him from playing the outfield and hitting.
"I keep preaching that anything can happen, like it did last year, if the kids believe in themselves," Brooks said.
Scott County 001 300 0—4 8 4
Bryan Station 140 000 x—5 4 2
Jordan Wagner, William Warman (6) and Luke Wright. Ryne Combs, Jordan Craig (5) and Cameron Hart. W—Combs. L—Wagner. 2B—Hart (BS), Elijah Burdette (BS), Colin Fultz (SC). HR—Wright (SC).
Records—Scott County 10-8; Bryan Station 9-6