Breds knock off Nicholas, claim another district title

Harrison County Thorobred’s baseball team celebrate as they hold up the championship trophy for the 38th District Baseball Championship game on May 17.

With the Harrison Co. Thorobreds and the Nicholas Co. Blue Jackets battling in a scoreless tie late in a tightly contested 38th District Tournament championship game on the Hilltop, the Vaughn brothers stepped up and were the catalysts behind a 4-0 win by the Breds.

The battery of sophomore catcher Brian Vaughn and junior starting pitcher Corey Vaughn combined to carry Harrison Co. With his bat, Brian drove in three runs while Corey pitched a three-hit shutout through 6 2/3 innings while striking out nine Blue Jackets. Corey also initiated some key defensive plays late in the contest.

Mac Whitaker commented, “I am so proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished. We are 28-4 against Kentucky teams which is impressive because this year’s schedule is the toughest we’ve had in several years.”

Whitaker continued, “Corey didn’t have his best stuff tonight but he is such a battler.”

Whitaker added, “I can’t say enough about how well Brian has played over the last year since he took over the catcher’s position. He does so much from relaying the signs from the dugout to blocking pitches in the dirt to throwing out runners trying to steal. He also came through with a couple of big hits tonight.”

Through the first part of the matchup, there was a question as to whether either team would be able to score. Corey Vaughn and Nicholas Co. senior Brayson Ring were locked in a pitcher’s duel in which neither team scored through the first four innings. Vaughn gave up just two hits during that part of the game while Ring surrendered just one safety going into the bottom of the fifth.

Both pitchers survived scares with each team stranding a runner in scoring position in each of the second, third and fourth frames. Both hurlers were able to escape those jams unscathed with nothing but zeroes appearing on the scoreboard.

The Breds finally broke through with a couple of runs in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, senior J. D. Kendall doubled to left field, narrowly reaching the second base bag ahead of the throw from Blue Jacket 8th-grade leftfielder Chandler Kenney. Brian Vaughn then stepped to the plate mired in a 3-for-19 slump. Also of note, Vaughn was 0-for-16 during the season when faced with a two-strike count.

Vaughn was able to neutralize those negative stats when he slammed an 0-and-2 pitch into left field for an RBI base hit, driving in Kendall and removing the goose egg off of Harrison Co.’s half of the tally sheet. Junior Bryson Tucker entered the contest to run for Vaughn and advanced from first to third on a bunt single by sophomore Jashon Lewis. Junior Elijah Harris then lifted a fly ball to deep center field with Tucker tagging up and scoring to extend the Breds’ lead to 2-0.

Nicholas Co. threatened to score in the top of the sixth. However, Corey Vaughn snuffed the rally by picking off two baserunners to maintain Harrison Co.’s two-run advantage.

The Breds were able to pick up a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. After the first two batters were retired, junior Malachi Feeback was hit by a pitch. Junior Mason Smiley and Kendall followed with back-to-back walks that loaded the bases. Brian Vaughn then came through again with a base hit up the middle, plating Feeback and Smiley to increase the lead for the Breds to 4-0.

The Blue Jackets didn’t go down in the top of the seventh without a fight. Junior Oscar Saucedo led off with a base on balls. Freshman Brady Greene then laid down a bunt that was fielded by Corey Vaughn who wheeled around and tried to retire the lead runner but his throw sailed into center field for an error putting runners on first and second with nobody out.

However, Greene got caught in no man’s land in the back half of a double steal attempt and was tagged before he could get out of the rundown. Corey Vaughn struck out Kenney for the second out before giving way to senior Jacob Craycraft who induced sophomore Corbin Fryman to fly out to right field thus preserving the 4-0 victory and earning the district championship.

Harrison Co. won its 12th straight game and improved to 28-8 while Nicholas Co. entered the 10th Region Tournament with a record of 13-15.

The Breds have now won 44 district tournament titles, including 37 since Whitaker took over the reins of the Harrison Co. baseball program in 1978.

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