High School Baseball

State baseball: Mercer County, Newport Catholic win big; North Oldham advances

Chandler Shepherd, who went on to play at UK and is in the Boston Red Sox's organization, was part of a Lawrence County team that went to the state tournament in 2010 and 2011. Travis Feltner, Lawrence County's head coach, says small schools like his have "absolutely no shot" at winning a title under the current format.
Chandler Shepherd, who went on to play at UK and is in the Boston Red Sox's organization, was part of a Lawrence County team that went to the state tournament in 2010 and 2011. Travis Feltner, Lawrence County's head coach, says small schools like his have "absolutely no shot" at winning a title under the current format.

Colin Buckner’s 400-foot three-run homer highlighted a fun time for Mercer County as the Titans mercy-ruled Boyd County 13-3 in a late-starting and late-finishing first-round game in the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Tournament Tuesday night.

The first pitch was at 10:40 p.m. Tuesday; the last out in the fifth inning came at 12:21 a.m. Wednesday.

Buckner’s blast soared over the left-field bleachers in Whitaker Bank Ballpark and was the exclamation point in Mercer County’s seven-run fourth inning.

Buckner also had a bases-loaded walk for another RBI. Matthew Honchel had a three-run double earlier in the game as the Titans jumped ahead early and stayed there.

Mercer County led 11-0 after four, but Boyd County stayed alive with three runs in the bottom of the inning. The Titans finished the Lions off in the fifth, though. Three Mercer County pitchers combined to limit Boyd County to two hits while striking out seven.

Newport Catholic 13, Lawrence County 3: Lawrence County ace Chandler Shepherd's dream season ended in a nightmare 13-3 mercy-rule loss to Newport Central Catholic in the first round of the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Tuesday.

Shepherd, who has signed with Kentucky, came to town with a 12-0 record and had walked only eight batters all year, none since April.

But it all fell apart for Shepherd and his team in the second inning when NewCath scored seven unearned runs.

Nick Wolterman was on base courtesy of a Lawrence County error, but Shepherd had two outs and two strikes on the No. 9 batter in the order. Shepherd wound up walking Brian Doyle, however, then he hit Brady Hightchew to load the bases.

Vance Sullivan followed with a two-run single, and a third run scored on an error.

"Vance's hit opened the floodgates," NewCath Coach Jeff Schulkens said.

The inning spun out of control for Shepherd. He walked three more batters, hit another, and gave up run-scoring hits to Pete Collopy, Sean Murphy and Nick Wolterman.

Shepherd was lifted after 83 pitches. He gave up four hits, five walks and three strikeouts.

"It was a prime example of the game of baseball," a poised Shepherd said later. "Sometimes things go your way; sometimes they don't.

"We'll keep our heads up. We had an awesome four years (including three trips to the state tournament)."

The game lasted more than three hours. NewCath led 11-0 and could've won by mercy rule, except Lawrence County scored three times in the top of the fifth.

There were a few contentious moments between opposing coaches and between coaches and umpires.

"I'm proud of the way our kids maintained their composure in some difficult situations," Schulkens said.

"And I was proud of the way our guys were aggressive against a great pitcher."

Wolterman had three hits and four RBI to lead the Thoroughbreds. Sean Murphy had two hits and three RBI.

Lawrence County Coach Travis Feltner credited NewCath. "We knew we had our work cut out for us. They're a very good team and could go pretty far."

North Oldham 9, Union County 7: Union County was threatening to overtake North Oldham in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with just one out.

North Oldham starter Matt Rowe had gone as far as he could, having thrown 117 pitches, so Tim LeMastus came on in relief.

Four pitches later, the game was over, thanks to a crisply turned 4-6-3 double play.

LeMastus got Mason Callaway to hit a grounder to second baseman Connor Heady, who turned the double play with his brother/shortstop Quint Heady.

Mustangs Coach Matt Walker wasn't the least bit worried when he saw Callaway's grounder. "We've got a great middle infield, so I was pretty confident we were going to roll that over and get out of there with the win."

Quint Heady, a senior, is headed to Northern Kentucky. Brother Connor, a junior, has committed to UK.

North Oldham took an 8-2 lead when it got seven runs in the fourth. Rowe had a three-run homer in the big inning.

Quint Heady had three hits, a run and an RBI. Jon Coartney had two runs and drove in two.

Union County, also in the state tournament for the first time, was led by Randall Miller and Taylor Davis, who had three hits apiece and combined for five RBI.

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