Facing one of the top freshman pitchers in the state, the Harrison Co. Thorobreds got a couple of longballs from junior Mason Smiley in a 6-2 win over the Bourbon Co. Colonels in the first round of the 10th Region Tournament on Mac Whitaker Field on Monday night.

Bourbon Co. freshman starter J. T. Ritchie came into the contest with a perfect record of 8-0 and an earned run average of only 0.77. Those gaudy numbers were rendered meaningless by Smiley who homered in back-to-back plate appearances putting Harrison Co. in front 3-0 on their way to the 6-2 victory. Celebrating his birthday, Smiley ushered Ritchie to an early exit from the game, knocking the vaunted freshman out after just three innings in Ritchie’s shortest outing of the season.

“I am so proud of this team,” said Mac Whitaker after the contest. “We faced a tough team tonight with a pitcher that’s going to be tough over the next few years.”

Whitaker continued, “I’m especially proud of Mason. He has worked very hard to make himself a very good player.”

Whitaker added, “We made some mistakes tonight but we didn’t let those bad plays become contagious. They happened and we were able to overcome them by putting those mistakes behind us.”

Facing the Colonels for the third time, the Breds recorded wins during the regular season by scores of 5-4 and 5-0.

Leading off the bottom of the second frame, Smiley drove a Ritchie pitch over the right center field fence that put his team in front 1-0.

Smiley struck again in the third. After senior Cameron White reached on a walk with two outs, Smiley connected on his second home run in as many at-bats with a shot to left field that increased Harrison Co.’s lead to 3-0.

Colonel senior Cain Flynn replaced Ritchie on the mound to begin the fourth. The Breds took advantage of the Bourbon Co. defense in the fourth frame, scoring three runs courtesy of two Colonel errors.

With one out, sophomore Brian Vaughn tapped a grounder to the left side that was mishandled by the third baseman for a two-base error. One out later, with junior Bryson Tucker running for Brian Vaughn, Flynn unleashed a wild pitch, advancing Tucker to third.

Junior Elijah Harris then laced a base hit through the left side of the infield plating Tucker. Junior Cliffy McIlvain was walked, placing runners on first and second. Another wild pitch moved the two runners forward 90 feet. Corey Vaughn then bounced a routine grounder to second, but the Bourbon Co. second baseman threw the ball wide of his first baseman for an error resulting in both runners scoring giving Harrison County a 6-0 lead.

The Colonels, however, had no thoughts of going quietly into the night. In the top of the fifth, Bourbon Co. narrowed the gap to four runs, scoring twice without the benefit of a hit. With one out, Colonel senior Theo Jones took first base with a walk and advanced to second on a balk. Jones then went to third on a ground ball to short.

With two outs, Corey Vaughn was replaced on the mound by Harris who surrendered a base on balls to freshman Jake Scott putting runners on the corners. Harris then let loose of a 55-foot curveball that got past Brian Vaughn for a wild pitch, allowing Jones to score Bourbon Co.’s first run of the game. Harris proceeded to walk Colonel senior Clay Estes.

With Bourbon Co. sophomore Xavier Baker at the plate, a pitch from Harris scooted past Brian Vaughn. The wild pitch sent Scott towards third base. After retrieving the errant delivery, Brian Vaughn attempted to throw out Scott, but his toss sailed over Smiley at third and down the left field line allowing Scott to score on the error and trimming the Breds’ advantage to 6-2.

That was as close as the Colonels would get as senior Jacob Craycraft entered the game in the sixth inning and shut out Bourbon Co. over the final two frames, thus preserving Harrison Co.’s 6-2 win and advancing the Breds to the semi-finals.

The victory by Harrison Co. was its 13th in a row and improved its record to 29-8. Meanwhile, the Colonels saw their season come to a close with a record of 26-12.

Harrison County will play Mason County in the first semi-final game, on Wednesday. The Royals edged Bishop Brossart in Monday’s first game, 1-0.

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