Baseball's version of The Agony and the Ecstasy was played out in the 11th Region finals at Tates Creek on Wednesday night.
Woodford County was the team in ecstasy as it celebrated its first-ever region title after routing mistake-prone Bryan Station 19-5 in a mercy-rule six-inning victory.
"This means a lot to us," Yellowjackets senior Rodney Gross and. "We're no longer Lexington's baby brother. We showed we're just as good as they are, and we can compete against whoever you put us up against."
Woodford County, rated 15th in the state, advances to play 14th Region winner Powell County in the first round of the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Monday.
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Bryan Station, which was seeking its first region title, was the team in agony because its own sloppy play contributed mightily to its misery. The 10th-rated Defenders made seven errors in a nightmarish fifth inning, fueling an eight-run rally by Woodford County.
Bryan Station's bad mojo continued in the sixth when its pitchers issued six walks and gave up five hits as the Jackets posted 10 more runs.
Woodford County Coach Jeff Parrett said his team's celebration was "somewhat subdued" because Parrett is friends with Bryan Station Coach Eddie Brooks, and because the Jackets respect the Defenders' program.
"It wasn't quite as happy a moment as (Tuesday's) exciting, nail-biter (semifinal) game, but it was still pretty darn fun," Parrett said.
The championship game had the feel of a nail-biter when Bryan Station led 3-1 going to the fifth thanks to Elijah Burdette's two hits and two RBI, and Brandon Mayle-George's run-scoring single.
But then the sky fell in on the Defenders and starting pitcher Michael Bollmer.
It started ominously with an error, the first of seven botched infield plays almost in succession.
Woodford County had only two hits in the big inning — a double by Justin Brown and a single by Zach Hacker — but the rest of the rally came courtesy of Bryan Station's fielding phobia.
Brooks said there was no way to explain it "other than the fact you've got young kids, their emotions run high and things happen.
"We made one error, then another one and on and on. The train got run away and we couldn't catch it."
"But tip your cap to Woodford County. They're a great ball club with a great coach. This is what happens in this region. If you don't play, you get your hat handed to you."
Woodford County kept the pressure on by putting the ball in play. The Jackets' entire lineup contributed.
Eli Boggess drove in four runs, three with a bases-loaded double. Hacker had three hits, three runs and an RBI. Gross and Logan Parrett had two hits apiece and combined for five runs.
J.T. O'Reel, Pete O'Nan and Boggess handled the pitching, with tournament MVP Gage Beavers behind the plate, to give Woodford County its 30th victory.
Parrett, a former major-league pitcher in his first season as Jackets' head coach, said his team has played loose throughout the season and playoffs because it has been free of expectations.
"We just tell them baseball is a game of execution, making plays, making pitches, getting good swings at the plate, and whatever happens, happens," Parrett said.
A region championship finally happened for Woodford County on Wednesday night.
Woodford Co. 001 08(10)—19 10 1
Bryan Station 102 00 0— 3 5 8
J.T. O'Reel, Pete O'Nan (4), Eli Boggess (6) and Gage Beavers. Michael Bollmer, Brandon McIntosh (5), Trae Moseley (6), Nick Hagen (6), Ryan Springer (6), Michael Morton (6) and Jordan Lewis. 2B—Justin Brown (WC), Eli Boggess (WC) 3B—Bollmer (BS).
Records—Woodford Co. 30-6; Bryan Station 28-13
All-tournament: Gage Beavers (MVP), Logan Parrett, Clinton Hollon, Eli Boggess of Woodford County; Ryne Combs, Brandon Mayle-George, Elijah Burdette of Bryan Station; Robert Waller, Tyler Jackson of Lexington Catholic; Trey Gross, Cole Metcalfe of Madison Central; Zack Arnold of Franklin County; Kelly Daniels of Model, William Warman of Scott County; Zack Herrin of Paul Dunbar.