Photo slideshow: Trinity defeats Hazard in state baseball quarterfinals
An exciting quarterfinal round in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament ended with a whimper.
Trinity run-ruled Hazard 13-0 in five innings to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2005. The Shamrocks have played for two state championship — 1983 and 2002 — but were the runner-up each year.
Breckinridge County, which scored a 10-6 upset over No. 2 Beechwood, and No. 4 Tates Creek, a 3-2 winner over Pleasure Ridge Park, are scheduled to play at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Shamrocks, who were ranked No. 3 in the final coaches’ poll of the season and are the highest-ranked team heading into the semfinals, will play McCracken County, a 1-0 winner over Rowan County on Thursday, about 30 minutes following the conclusion of Breckinridge-Tates Creek. The championship game is still scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.
Four errors allowed Trinity to take a 3-0 lead in the first half-inning on just one hit, a two-out triple to center field off the bat of Josh Castleman to score the Shamrocks’ first run. The Shamrocks added two in the second, again doing all their damage with two outs after Daylen Lile and Jared Bryant drove in runs with a double and single, respectively.
“They’ve been here three years in a row, they’ve got a bunch of seniors,” Trinity Coach Richard Arnold said of Hazard. “I think we were the better team but we were not taking them lightly by any means. We ran one of our top arms (Kaelan Racculia) out and he was outstanding, and that set the tone.”
Flooding occurred in the top of the third: Trinity erupted for six runs, highlighted by a three-run shot over the left-field fence to put the Shamrocks up 8-0. They put three more on the board before Hazard’s Jarrett Napier delivered a strikeout to finish the frame. Trinity added two more runs in the fourth before Hazard turned a double play to eliminate the chance of being subject to the 15-run mercy rule, which was put into place this season.
Lile, a sophomore who’s committed to the University of Louisville, finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and scored two runs.
Trinity fell 1-0 to McCracken County in its last state-tournament trip in 2017. Only two players — seniors Jared Bryant and Brett Pfaadt — were on the roster then, and they watched that loss from the dugout.
“They’re well aware of how good McCracken is, and (Mustangs Coach) Geno (Miller) and what kind of program they got,” Arnold said. “We’re much respectful of them as well.”
Total attendance for the first round of games was reported to be 4,113 despite Mother Nature’s interference.
It appeared that about 200 fans actually witnessed the Hazard-Trinity quarterfinal, but attendance for that session also included the McCracken-Rowan game. Most of the full figure was generated by the crowd of 2,382 in attendance for the seven innings played between Beechwood and Breckinridge County on Wednesday before that game was postponed and completed on Thursday. Breckinridge County, making its state-tournament debut, brought the biggest crowd of the eight teams.
Last year’s quarterfinal round, which was unimpeded by weather, drew 3,808 spectators.