Woodford County ace Clinton Hollon's 90-mph fastball helped him ring up 14 strikeouts, but the No. 15 Yellowjackets had to sweat out a 4-3 victory over Powell County in the first round of the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Tournament on Monday night.
Hollon, a right-hander who's rated one of the top juniors in the nation, helped Woodford County to its 12th win in a row.
Hollon threw 100 pitches before giving way to sophomore Eli Boggess to start the seventh inning.
Boggess quickly ran into trouble, though. Powell County's Joey Johnson walked, Caleb McCoy reached on an error, and Elliott Hale singled home Johnson.
Woodford County Coach Jeff Parrett then brought Hollon back into the game with runners at second and third.
After getting a strikeout, Hollon surrendered a two-run single to Cody Morton that tied the game.
Woodford County didn't lose its poise, though. It pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Justin Brown was hit by a pitch to start the rally. He was sacrificed to second by Gage Beavers, and raced home with the winning run when Rodney Gross grounded a single to left.
"I didn't think it was going to make it through (the infield). I thought it was an out," Gross said. "But somehow it made it through, and I'm not complaining."
Parrett said the key was getting the speedy Brown on base. "When you get Justin a chance to run, it's a thing of beauty," he said.
The Jackets' fans turned out in force at Whitaker Bank Ballpark to cheer on their team in its first-ever state tournament.
Woodford County (31-6) earned a spot in Wednesday's quarterfinals where it will face South Warren (23-13).
The Jackets touched Powell County starter Billy Hatmaker for a run in the second on Zach Hacker's double and Brown's single, and another in the third on Boggess' triple and Chris Ares' single.
They added a run in the fifth on Logan Parrett's sacrifice fly that drove in Gross.
Hollon got a boost from his defense in the third.
Powell County's Elliott Hale and Matt Pelfrey reached on singles with no outs. Hollon struck out the next two batters, but Trey Marcum followed with a sharp single to right. Hale raced around third and headed for home, but he was gunned down at the plate on the relay from Hacker to cut-off man Boggess to catcher Beavers to end the inning.
Hatmaker gave up only five hits in his seven innings of work. He struck out three and walked one.
Powell County 000 000 3—3 8 3
Woodford County 011 010 x—3 5 1
Billy Hatmaker and David Hayes. Clinton Hollon and Gage Beavers.2B—Zach Hacker (WC). 3B—Eli Boggess (WC).
Records—Powell Co. 30-12; Woodford Co. 31-6.