For the second time in three days, a three-run first inning was all the offense Simon Kenton needed to advance in the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Led by Bailey Martin’s complete game on the mound and 3-for-3 performance at the plate, the Pioneers edged Muhlenberg County 3-2 on Saturday to lock up a spot in next weekend’s semifinals. Simon Kenton knocked off Clark County 3-1 in the opening round on Thursday night.
Like they did against the Cardinals, the Pioneers erased a first–inning deficit to advance.
Aided by a Simon Kenton error, Muhlenberg County took a 2-0 lead on Payton Lipe’s RBI single and Nick Casey’s RBI double.
In the bottom of the inning, the Pioneers had two on with two out after a pair of walks. Martin singled to center field to cut the deficit in half, then Zane Fuqua tied the game on a single through the left side of the infield. Joey Ponder followed with a ground-rule double to left field that scored Martin for what turned out to be the game-winner.
After allowing three hits in the first inning, Martin scattered just three more the rest of the way.
The junior worked out of a jam in the top of the sixth. After giving up a leadoff single and hitting a batter, Martin retired three straight. He tossed two of his five strikeouts in the top of the seventh as he retired the side in order to finish off the win.
Marion County survives Knox Central rally
In Saturday’s second game, Marion County survived a ferocious rally to knock off Knox Central 8-7.
With Knox Central trailing 7-1 heading into the sixth inning, Tucker Holland drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a balk, then scored on Seth Hill’s single. But the Panthers were just getting started.
Two more singles followed. Then Evan Landrum drew a bases-loaded walk to draw Knox Central within 7-4. Blevin Campbell punched a two-run double to center field and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 7. Marion County used three pitchers in the inning.
In the bottom of the frame, the Knights recaptured the lead on Luke Thomas’ RBI single.
The Panthers again threatened in the top of the seventh with two hits, but Landrum fouled out to end the game, sending Marion County to the semifinals for the first time in school history.
Andrew Spalding gave the Knights the lead with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. Thomas went 3-for-3 at the plate.
Hill went 3-for-4 with two RBI for Knox Central, while Campbell went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. The teams combined for 25 hits.
Highlands wins revenge game
In the final game of the first round Friday night, Highlands knocked off Johnson Central 3-1 to avenge a 6-2 opening-round loss to the Golden Eagles last season.
Bluebirds starter Ethan Doty allowed one run on two hits and struck out 12 as he tossed a complete game on 123 pitches.
Doty’s spectacular performance nearly bumped up against a KHSAA rule that limits players to 120 pitches per game. The rule allows pitchers to finish the at-bat during which the limit is surpassed. Had Johnson Central’s final batter reached base, Doty would have had to come out. Instead, he ended the game with a strikeout.