FRANKFORT — The ballyhooed pitching matchup didn't live up to the hype, but Western Hills ace J.T. Riddle was delighted with the result as the Wolverines edged Tates Creek, 7-6, in the opening round of the 11th Region baseball tournament Monday afternoon at Franklin County.
"I'm sure everybody expected a 1-0 or 2-1 ball game," Riddle said. "But as long as we got the victory, that's all that matters."
The showdown between Riddle and Tates Creek ace Trevor Gott, both University of Kentucky signees, was overshadowed by an offensive show that included four home runs.
After No. 19 Western Hills went up 1-0 in the first, No. 9 Tates Creek torched Riddle for five runs in the second. Dylan Justice ripped a three-run homer, and Ryan Fucci followed with a solo shot to highlight the big inning.
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Riddle admitted he was a little shell-shocked by the assault, but it also prompted a change in strategy. He went more to his off-speed stuff and allowed only one hit the rest of the way.
He went the full seven innings and had 12 strikeouts.
Western Hills pulled to within 5-2 on Andrew Cammack's solo homer in the third, then took the lead with four runs in the fifth.
After Gott gave up a run in the fifth, he left with one runner on. Reliever Devin Jackson gave up a single to Riddle, and Cammack followed with a three-run homer that put the Wolverines ahead, 6-5.
"After we got a couple runs there, we got pumped," Cammack said. "Then when we got Gott out of there, we knew we had a chance."
Riddle credited Cammack for sparking Western Hills.
"He was on fire today," Riddle said. "He's the guy who got us back in the game."
Tates Creek scratched out a tying run in the sixth when Travis Murray reached on an error and eventually scored on a passed ball.
Western Hills almost got a run in the bottom of the sixth, but Fucci, Tates Creek's center fielder, gunned down Jordan Barrass at the plate.
The Wolverines weren't denied in the seventh, however.
After Riddle doubled with one out, Cammack was intentionally walked, and Dylan Curry loaded the bases with an infield hit off Phillip Donovan.
That brought up Logan Coffey. He had the throwing error that allowed Tates Creek to score in the previous inning, but he made up for it by hitting a single to right to chase home Riddle with the winning run.
"I was trying to back up my boy (Riddle)," Coffey said.
"I knew we could come back and win. That's what we do best."
Western Hills first-year coach Seth Knight wasn't surprised by his team's grit under pressure.
"We've been preaching positivism all year," he said. "Positive thoughts lead to positive actions.
"Our kids showed toughness, and that means a lot in baseball."
Tates Creek Coach Dom Fucci bemoaned his team's missed chances, like when it stranded a runner at third with one out.
"But give all the credit to Western Hills," Fucci said. "They made the plays, and we didn't."
Tates Creek 050 001 0—6 6 2
Western Hills 101 040 1—7 12 2
Trevor Gott, Devin Jackson (5), Phillip Donovan (6) and Austin Broome. J.T. Riddle and Cody Hecker. 2B—A.B. Bryant (TC); Riddle (WH). HR—Dylan Justice (TC), Ryan Fucci (TC), Andrew Cammack (WH), 2.
Records—Tates Creek 25-12; Western Hills 21-8