Breds continue winning ways

The HCHS Thorobred senior baseball players and a statistician were honored prior to the Breds game with Paris last week. From the left, head coach Mac Whitaker, assistant coach Vince Harris, Jacob Craycraft, assistant coach Taylor Hill, Chris Coy, assistant coach Mark Sadler, Malachi Feeback, J.D. Kendall, Bodie Muth, Cameron White, assistant coach Xavier Carter, stat girl Kyla Soard and assistant coach Colin Duffie.

With the regular season winding down, the Harrison Co. Thorobreds are playing their best baseball of the year. That fact was in clear as Harrison Co. won four games in a row last week, outscoring its opponents by a combined score of 45-1 and finishing the week with 18 shutout innings.

Although the Breds’ offense has been the main focus behind the Harrison Co.’s resurgence, with an average of 8.6 runs per game, it’s been an improved effort by the pitching staff and more consistent play on defense that have carried the Breds to nine straight wins.

Ever since a 6-3 defeat at the hands of top-ranked Lexington Catholic, Harrison Co. has been unbeatable, winning by a margin of 8.9 runs per contest. In that same stretch, only South Laurel has scored more than three runs.

Following a 5-0 win over Bourbon Co. on the Hilltop, Mac Whitaker said, “We’re really proud of the way the team has played. The offense is playing well, the defense has been playing well and the pitching is coming around. (Senior) starting pitcher (Corey) Vaughn didn’t have his best stuff tonight but still battled for a one-hitter.”

Whitaker continued, “We are so lucky to be playing in a community that supports the team so much. That’s why we don’t charge people to come to the games. Our parents are supportive and ready to step up whenever they’re asked to contribute their time.”

“No other team except Conner, who got the idea from us, has a senior night like we do,” Whitaker said. “The Baseball Alumni Association and the Persingers give each player $1,000 toward their future education. No other teams’ seniors get that opportunity.”

Whitaker concluded, “I want to thank Laura Ashbrook for doing so much to make the homecoming ceremony so nice. She always does a great job.”

Last Wednesday, the Breds won both ends of a doubleheader against the Paris Greyhounds, winning by scores of 15-1 and 10-0. Prior to the first game, senior players Chris Coy, Jacob Craycraft, Malachi Feeback, J. D. Kendall, Bodie Muth and Cameron White, along with senior stat girl Kyla Soard were honored for their years of service to the Harrison Co. baseball program.

In the first game of the twinbill, the Breds scored in all four innings they batted in a contest that ended after five innings. Harrison Co. scored four runs in the first frame with Coy contributing an RBI double and White picking up a run-producing base hit.

The Breds responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning. White walked with one out, advanced to third on a double by Feeback and crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Muth.

Harrison Co. added three more runs in the third. Junior Mason Smiley led off the frame with a solo home run over the right center field fence. Later in the inning, Feeback and Coy walked with the bases loaded, increasing the Thorobred lead to 8-1.

In the fourth inning, the Breds exploded for seven runs. Back-to-back bombs, a three-run longball by Feeback and a solo homer by White, were the big hits in the frame that brought 12 batters to the plate.

While the offense was taking care of business at the plate, the pitching combination of Coy and freshman Peyton Wagoner was getting the job done on the mound, allowing only five base hits in the 15-1 victory.

The second game of the twi-night double-dip was nearly as big a blowout as the first contest with Harrison Co. winning 10-0 in five innings. With the seniors getting a chance to sit back and watch the game, several of the undergraduates got a chance for some varsity playing time.

The Breds’ offense took a little time to get going, but once the runs began scoring, the floodgates opened.

Going into the bottom of the third, Harrison Co.’s advantage was just 1-0. However, a five-run third gave the Breds a decisive 6-0 lead. After junior Elijah Harris reached base on a leadoff single and stole second, juniors Cliffy McIlvain and Corey Vaughn connected on back-to-back RBI two-baggers to left center field. Two more runs scored in the frame on an error and a wild pitch. Sophomore Jashon Lewis plated the fifth run of the inning when his chopper to the right side hit the cut between the infield grass and the dirt, bouncing high over the glove of the first baseman for an RBI single.

Two more runs came across the plate in the fourth frame courtesy of run-scoring base knocks by senior Cameron White and sophomore Keene Price.

Freshman Cooper Slade put a bow on the 10-0 win when he doubled with the bases loaded and no one out in the fifth inning, bringing home the two runs needed to end the game early.

Junior Bryson Tucker and freshman Sean Vaughn threw a two-hit shutout in which no Greyhound runner advanced past second base.

Harrison Co. improved its record to 23-8 while Paris dropped to 6-22.

On Thursday afternoon, the Nicholas Co. Blue Jackets came to town for a match-up that would decide the top seed in the 38th District Tournament. On April 10th, the two teams met in Carlisle with the Breds coming out on top 11-0 in six innings.

In the second meeting, Harrison Co. took advantage of six bases on balls and two hit batsmen by a trio of Nicholas Co. hurlers to defeat the Blue Jackets 15-0 in a game stopped after three frames.

The Breds took control of the matchup early, scoring six runs in the first frame. White drove in the first two runs with a double to left field. Smiley extended the lead to 3-0 with an infield single and, two batters later, Kendall smacked a base hit up the middle bringing home two more runs. Harris wrapped up the scoring in the initial frame when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Just as they did in the first inning, the Breds batted around in the second frame as well with four runs stepping on the dish. Feeback continued his torrid hitting of late with his first home run of the game, a two-run blast that landed over the left field fence. Two more runs scored in the inning, coming home thanks to a couple of Nicholas Co. errors, increasing Harrison Co.’s advantage to 10-0.

The Breds’ bats continued to put runs on the scoreboard, plating five more markers in the bottom of the third. Feeback went deep with his second bomb of the contest, a three run round tripper that was a no-doubter over the right center field fence. Harrison Co. finalized the victory when an error by the Blue Jacket defense allowed the last two runs the Breds needed to end the game after three frames.

Harrison Co. junior Braxton Grubb tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout in which he struck out five batters in the Breds’ eighth straight win.

Harrison Co. increased its record to 24-8 and 4-0 in the district. Meanwhile, Nicholas Co. fell to 9-11 and 2-2 against district competition. Therefore, the Blue Jackets will play in the first round of the 38th District Tournament against Pendleton Co. Meanwhile, the Breds earn a first-round bye and an automatic berth in the championship game. Robertson Co. did not field a team this season.

On Friday night, Harrison Co. celebrated Judy Construction Alumni Night with a 5-0 win over Bourbon Co. Several former baseball players returned to the Hilltop to taking batting practice and renew friendships in a gala that was enjoyed by all. After that celebration, the Spring Sports Homecoming event took place with the crowning of the king and queen as the highlight.

Back on March 28th, the Breds needed some late game heroics by White and a couple of seventh inning errors by Bourbon Co. to pick up a come from behind 6-5 victory over the Colonels. Nothing of the sort was necessary on Friday night as Vaughn beat Bourbon Co. with both his arm and his bat.

Vaughn accounted for all the runs Harrison Co. would need in the bottom of the first frame. Harris led off the inning with a walk and promptly stole second. One out later, Vaughn sent the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a round tripper that gave the Breds a 2-0 lead.

That was one of only two bad pitches that Colonel freshman starter Jake Scott would throw as he kept the game close throughout.

Harrison Co.’s other three runs came in the third frame. McIlvain singled to begin the inning. Following a fielder’s choice grounder by Vaughn, White hit a ground ball to the right side that was muffed by the Bourbon Co. second baseman placing runners at first and second. That’s when Feeback crunched a three-run long-ball halfway up the bank in left center field for his seventh homer in his last 10 games, giving the Breds a 5-0 advantage.

That was more than enough support for Vaughn who pitched a complete game, one-hitter in which he walked just one batter while striking out eight. The only base hit collected by Bourbon Co. was a two-bagger by senior Tanner Moore leading off the second frame.

With its ninth straight win, Harrison Co. improved its record to 25-8. The Colonels saw their record drop to 20-9.

During the homecoming festivities, Jenna Gaunce was crowned as the homecoming queen while Trevor Smith was selected as the king. First runners-up were Abigail Palmer and J. D. Kendall. Second runners-up were Kyla Soard and Barton Chasteen.

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