With runners on second and third, and in imminent danger of losing a hard-fought three-run lead, Bowling Green needed a rescue.
Hard-throwing junior Trevor Dennis, was just that for the victorious Purples, as his late-game pitching heroics eventually secured a comeback 8-6 victory over Madison Central in the first round of the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament Friday night. The Indians had led 5-3 before Bowling Green pulled ahead.
Dennis, who spent most of the game as DH, took the mound in relief in the bottom of the sixth with one out, two Madison Central runners in scoring position and his team leading 8-5. He struck out the first batter, but walked the next one, and the next one — which gave the Indians a free run.
He nearly walked the next batter, but recovered a 3-1 count and struck out Madison Central's Matthew McQuain to end the inning. Dennis was eventually credited with the save, as he struck out two and coaxed a flyout in the final frame to advance the Purples to a Saturday night second-round matchup against McCracken County.
On the offensive side, Dennis was also highly effective, as were most of the Bowling Green bats. Dennis finished with a single and an RBI-double that helped jump start the five-run rally in the top of the sixth that would hand the Purples the victory. Bowling Green was down by two runs twice in the game.
Bowling Green scored their eight runs on eight hits, six RBI, three walks and four Madison Central errors. The Purples came through in the clutch, as they secured three two-out RBI.
The Indians were also potent from the plate, recording eight hits and eight walks. Madison Central also left twelve runners stranded on the base paths. Of the eight times the team had runners in scoring position, only twice did the batter drive them in.
At the conclusion of Friday night's game, a photographer, Paul Gray, collapsed and was unresponsive. Gray was rushed to a hospital by an ambulance that drove onto the field to aid him.
McCracken County 14, Campbell County 3 (5 innings)
Experience proved vital in the Mustangs' first round win over Campbell County on Friday evening.
A McCracken roster laden with eight seniors piloted an explosive Mustang lineup over the Campbell County Camels 14-3 in five innings. Those seniors have been to the state tournament for every year of their high school careers.
"They've been here before," McCracken head coach Geno Miller said. "We've been very fortunate and blessed to have been here now for the fifth year in a row and its very comfortable to come out here and play on this field right now."
Senior outfielder Rook Ellington sure looked comfortable as he led the Mustangs with three runs and three hits. The UK commit batted in two runs and stole a base.
As a team, the Mustangs had 13 total RBI on 13 hits and seven walks. At least four McCracken players had multiple RBs. Sophomore Connor Dismore led the team with four.
Junior pitcher Jacob Ehling, who boasted a 0.99 ERA and eight wins coming into the tournament, was solid on the mound. Ehling struck out seven and walked none. All three Camel runs were credited to him as he began to slow down in the later innings.
As the Mustangs go deeper into the tournament, Miller expects stiffer competition and he expects his seniors' comfort with the tournament to be an advantage.
"I'd rather have them loose than tight," Miller said. "So if they can just keep what they're doing at the plate and they're balanced then we'll see what happens tomorrow."
Bowling Green and McCracken County will face off Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.