St. Xavier’s late-game heroics worked Tuesday against Logan County but fell short Thursday.
The Tigers ran themselves out of a final-inning rally as Pleasure Ridge Park held on 3-2 to advance to today’s semifinals of the Forcht Bank/KHSAA State Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Down two runs entering the seventh, the Tigers (34-5) had four batters reach base but were able to scratch across only one run. Andrew Hubbs, Sam Melchior and Miles Lee all singled, and Hayden Ford reached on a throwing error by PRP shortstop Alex Miller.
But two of those runners were thrown out on the basepaths. Trace Amshoff, Hubbs’ pinch runner, was picked off by catcher Joseph Hatcher, and Jack Arnold, Melchior’s pinch runner, was thrown out trying to go from first to third on Lee’s hit.
“Everybody had the belief that it isn’t over until that final out,” said St. X coach Andy Porta, whose team routed the Panthers 12-0 in the regular season. “I think we kind of had PRP on the ropes, but unfortunately we gave them too much cushion.
“Give PRP credit. They made plays when they had to. You want to be a little bit aggressive, but at the same time you don’t want to run yourself out of innings. We hurt ourselves.”
Greg Laughlin coaxed a groundout from Andrew McCormick, leaving the tying run on base to seal the game for the Panthers (36-7). Laughlin went the distance, giving up seven hits and striking out six.
“He did enough to keep us off balance and keep us off the board,” Porta said. “We really didn’t get to him until that last inning.”
PRP third baseman Josh Beams made big plays in the field and on the bases, scoring the Panthers’ first run and preventing a potential double in the sixth inning.
“Josh is a good baseball player, and we expect good things from him,” PRP coach Bill Miller said.
Beams drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first. Blake Stewart laid down a bunt, and Beams went all the way to third when he saw that nobody was covering.
“When I was rounding second, (third baseman) Melchior was in fielding the bunt — he wasn’t covering third, and the shortstop wasn’t covering, so I knew I was going,” Beams said. “I believe every game if we start off the game with a run or two, we are going to be positive and win the game.”
Beams scored on Alex Miller’s weak groundball to first baseman Ford, who hesitated as if unsure whether it was fair or foul, and Beams crossed the plate as the play was made at first.
“We didn’t cover correctly on the bunt coverage, and they scored a run without a hit,” Porta said. “I think they went three innings without a hit but had the run on the board.”
The Panthers added a run in the fourth. Hunter Johnson walked with two out and was replaced by pinch-runner Steven Husband. Joseph Hatcher lined a shot through the left side for PRP’s first hit, moving Husband to second, and John Cavanaugh hit an RBI single up the middle.
“When we played them the first time, they shut us down and I was the only one to get a hit,” Hatcher said. “It was just a matter of just relaxing. I just poked it out there. I got kind of lucky.”
PRP capitalized on two hit batters by reliever Jack Clearly to score the ultimately decisive run in the sixth. Blake Stewart was plunked on the helmet, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and came in on Hatcher’s second hit of the game.
Beams said the 12-0 loss to the Tigers “motivated us to come out and play even better and show them that we’re not laying down for them. In our hearts we felt like we were better than them.”
|Stemle, ss||3||0||1||0||Beams, 3b||2||1||0||0|
|Clemons, c||3||0||0||0||Stewart, 2b||1||1||0||0|
|Springer, lf||2||0||1||0||Miller, ss||2||0||0||1|
|Hubbs, dh||3||0||1||0||Johnson, 1b||1||0||0||0|
|Amshoff, pr||0||0||0||0||Husband, pr||0||1||0||0|
|Ford, 1b||3||1||1||0||Hatcher, c||3||0||2||1|
|Melchior, 3b||2||0||1||1||McKenzie, pr||0||0||0||0|
|Arnold, pr||0||0||0||0||Cavanaugh, dh||3||0||1||1|
|Lee, rf||3||1||2||0||Beckman, lf||2||0||0||0|
|Wagoner, cf||2||0||0||1||Clair, rf||2||0||0||0|
|McCormick, ph||1||0||0||0||Hart, cf||2||0||0||0|
|Purcell, 2b||2||0||0||0||Laughlin, p||0||0||0||0|
|E-A. Miller. LOB-St. X 3, PRP 3. DP-PRP 1. 2B-Lee. S-Melchior, Stewart, A. Miller. SB-Stewart.|
|WP- Laughlin. HBP- Springer (by Laughlin), Stewart (by Cleary), Johnson (by Cleary).T- 1:38. A-n/a.|