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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tough inning in Lexington

Johnson Central uses late run to eliminate Highlands

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior shortstop Brady Gosney makes a play in the first round of the state tournament Thursday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington. Highlands lost to Johnson Central, 6-2.
The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team stood six outs from returning to Lexington on Saturday.

But similar to what the Bluebirds (23-18 overall) did to McCracken County in the same round last year, the 15th Region champion Johnson Central Golden Eagles (33-9) scored five runs on two hits and two Highlands errors in the bottom of the sixth to beat Highlands, 6-2 in the first game of the state baseball tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

Highlands committed four errors in the game to just one for Johnson Central. Both teams scored one unearned run.

Ricky Raisor (6-4 overall) pitched into the sixth inning for Highlands before Ethan Doty finished the deal. Raisor struck out six.

Johnson Central outhit Highlands, 7-4. The Bluebirds held Johnson Central's main threat in junior .496 hitter Geordan Blanton hitless in four trips with a strikeout and one lone run batted in. But Highlands could not keep the first two batters in eighth grader Cody Rice and junior Austin Davis off the bases in front of him. Rice singled in his lone at-bat to go with two walks and scored a run and Davis went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Senior Jacob Harless went 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs.

Neither team had any extra-base hits. Trey Bowden, Conner Kreeger, Mark Walkenhorst and Drew Rom had the four Bluebird singles.

Neither team scored in the first four innings. The Bluebirds hit the scoreboard first in the top of the fifth off Golden Eagle starting pitcher Braxton Kelly. Rom singled and advanced to second with two out when Bradley Greene walked. Bowden then singled down the left field line to score Rom.

But Johnson Central came back to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth. Harless singled and took second on a wild pitch with one out. The Golden Eagles loaded the bases when Rice walked and Davis landed a bunt single. Blanton then forced Rice at third on a fielder's choice and Harless scored.

Highlands took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth. With one out, Walkenhorst singled and Joe Steiden ran for him. Austin Mayhew then reached and Steiden moved to second on a Johnson Central error and Rom walked to load the bases prompting the Golden Eagles to bring in senior Josh Hitchcock to pitch. That's when Sam Hennigan landed a squeeze bunt to score Steiden.

With one out, the Golden Eagles began their run. Trevor May was hit by a pitch and scored on an error on a Grant Davis ground ball. Grant Davis ended up at second and scored when Tate Meade singled to put the Golden Eagles up 3-2. Then with the bases loaded, Austin Davis walked to score Meade.

Blanton then lined out to second for the second out of the inning. But a throwing error allowed Austin Davis and Harless to score making the final score.

The Bluebirds graduate seven seniorom this year's team that also won its fifth consecutive 36th District championship. They are Austin Beal, Trent Casebolt, Hunter Henschen, Kreeger, Mayhew, Ricky Raisor and Walkenhorst.

                                                                        R  H  E
Highlands (23-18)                         000 011 0  2   4  4
Johnson Central (33-9)                 000 015 x  6   7   1

Highlands Pitching Line:
Ricky Raisor (6-4) - 5.1 IP, six strikeouts, five hits, two walks, three runs, two earned.
Ethan Doty - .2 IP, no strikeouts, two walks, two hits, three runs, all earned.

Highlands leading hitters:
Trey Bowden, Conner Kreeger, Mark Walkenhorst, Drew Rom - one hit each.

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