High School Baseball

Mother Nature spoils thriller as Kentucky state baseball tournament gets underway

Mother Nature enjoyed the thriller brewing between Beechwood and Breckinridge County so much that she wanted it to last at least another day.

Play between the teams during the quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament was suspended as the seventh inning ended due to lightning at 7:54 p.m. Wednesday.

It to that point had been a nail-biter: The Fighting Tigers from Breckinridge, unranked throughout the entire season, were tied 6-6 with Beechwood’s Tigers, who were ranked No. 2 by the the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association in the final regular-season poll in mid-May.

The game was officially postponed at 8:39 p.m. and scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. Thursday. The quarterfinal between Pleasure Ridge Park and Tates Creek (originally scheduled for Wednesday night) was re-scheduled to begin 30 minutes after the completion of Beechwood-Breckinridge. Inclement weather was in Thursday’s forecast.

Isaac Seeger got the scoring started with a two-out single to score Brock Lucas, putting Breckinridge County ahead 1-0 in the first half-inning. The Fighting Tigers held that lead into the bottom of the second, where Beechwood scored two runs — one on a Jackson Noll single and another via a bases-loaded walk drawn by Logan Castleman, who’s committed to Wright State.

Breckinridge County’s John Higdon (14) tagged out Beechwood’s John Odom (6) at home during the quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament on Wednesday Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Breckinridge County responded with gusto in the top of the third, hitting two home runs — a two-run shot by Jacob Ball that rode some wind into the stands and a three-run blast by Cole Tabor that needed no assistance — to regain the lead, 6-2. It didn’t last long, however, as Beechwood punched back with four more of its own, capped by an RBI single from Castleman; a bang-bang out call at home kept the Tigers from retaking the lead through three.

That play also proved crucial in pushing the game to extras: Back-to-back scoreless innings for both teams followed, each stranding a man in scoring position along the way. Breckinridge County went 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth, a somersault snag by Devin Johnson in left field preventing a two-out triple by Brock Lucas.

Breckinridge starter Preston Cottrell neared the pitch-count limit as the fifth inning ended, so Lucas took the ball in the bottom of the sixth. He walked the first two batters he faced — top-of-the-order hitters John Odom and Castleman — and bobbled a bunt, allowing them to advance while settling for the out at first. A strike out was dropped by catcher John Higdon but tossed over to first baseman Kaeveon Mitchell, who got the out and held Odom at third. A pop-up in foul territory ended the threat.

Kobe Poole, a Mr. Basketball candidate earlier this winter, got on with two outs in the seventh but a pop-up finished the Fighting Tigers’ at-bat. Lucas delivered a strike out to start the bottom before a grounder and fly out finished a 1-2-3 effort by Beechwood. Play halted right as the inning ended.