High School Sports

West Jessamine got to state tourney with dramatic comebacks late in games

West Jessamine baseball coach Jody Hamilton
West Jessamine baseball coach Jody Hamilton

West Jessamine baseball coach Jody Hamilton said it's been "a pretty magical season" for the Colts, whose abracadabra skills helped them win the 12th Region title Saturday afternoon.

West Jessamine trailed Garrard County 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh before rallying for a 6-5 victory at Wayne County.

Kendall Peters and Max Mahon knocked in runs with singles to tie the game before Peters ran home with the winning run on a wild pitch.

It was Hamilton's 1,200th game as a high school baseball coach, and he won't have any trouble remembering it.

"It was a pretty wild ending for No. 1,200," he said.

Hamilton, whose 863 career victories are seventh most in state history, guided Boyd County to the 2001 state championship. He's been at West Jessamine the last 13 years, and he has the Colts in the state tournament for the third time. (They also made it in 2008 and 2010.)

West Jessamine (32-7) plays 7th Region champ Ballard (23-15-1) Tuesday night in the first round of the Rawlings/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

It's no surprise West Jessamine won the 12th. It is well-stocked with talented players.

"It's been such a great year because we haven't had to rely on any one particular guy," Hamilton said. "Everybody's contributed at different times. It's really been a total team effort."

The Colts' seniors are finishing their careers in style. They went undefeated (17-0) in the region this spring, and in four years they've gone 117-33 overall, a school record for victories.

The seniors leading the way have been pitcher Joe Ivey, infielders Mahon, Josh Blancet, Tanner Graham and Troy Merida, outfielders Trey Merida (Troy's identical twin), Emerson James and Pete Johnson.

Juniors Ryan Layne (shortstop) and Tucker Greer (outfield) have had big years, as has sophomore Peters (outfield). Junior pitcher Mark Leonard earned region MVP honors by picking up two victories in relief.

While West Jessamine has won a lot of games, a lot of those victories have tested Hamilton's heart. He even calls himself the "cardiac coach" because of some of the improbable comebacks.

"It's been like that all year," he said. "We'd tie it up with two outs and two strikes in our last at-bat."

In back-to-back games in the Louisville Invitational Tournament, the Colts beat Mercer County 8-7 in 10 innings and Male 5-3 in 13.

"It's really been an unbelievable year," Hamilton said.

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