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Breds in district finals against Blue Jackets

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By Lee Kendall

The Harrison County Thorobreds will continue their annual rite of spring next week by participating in another 10th Region Baseball tournament.

This will mark the 29th straight year that the Breds have earned their way into the regional tournament by either winning or finishing as runner-up in district tournament play.

The Thorobreds smashed Deming in the first game of the 38th District Tournament on Monday night, 20-0, to play their way into last night’s district title game against Nicholas County. The Bluejackets edged Pendleton County in the lower bracket semi-final contest, 1-0, on Tuesday night.

Joining the Breds and Bluejackets  in the eight-team regional tournament next week at Scott High School will be Campbell County and Scott out of the 37th District, Mason County and Bracken County from the 39th District and Clark County and Bourbon County from the 40th District.

The tournament will begin on Monday, Memorial Day, with all four first-round games being played. District winners will be paired against district runners-up in the first round.

Two of the districts have already played their championship games. Mason County defeated Bracken County 13-2 in the 39th District finals and GRC knocked off Bourbon County in the 40th District finals, 8-3.

Harrison County Head Coach Mac Whitaker makes no bones about who he would prefer to draw in the first round, supposing the Breds won last night.

“There is no question that this is the year to draw the 39th District,” said Whitaker. “Bracken County doesn’t appear to have a dominating pitcher that can knock you out of the tournament and all of the other runner-up teams probably do. If we draw them, we should be able to get by without having to use our very best pitchers, which would give us a big advantage for the rest of the tournament.”

Whitaker has long been known for rolling the dice when it comes to setting up his post-season pitching rotation.

“You have to have a plan with your pitchers to win the tournament and unless you have three outstanding pitchers, you have to plan things in such a way that your best pitcher goes against the best team in your bracket. Bourbon County is in as a runner-up and they are pretty good, and you have to figure that the runner-up in the 37th will be pretty good, too. If we have to play either one of them, we’ll have to throw one of our best pitchers. If we draw Bracken County, we won’t. If Bracken County beats us, so be it, but that’s what you have to do.”

Game times for the first day of the 10th Region Tournament will be 10:30, 12:45, 3:15, and 5:30.  The two semi-final  games will be Tuesday, May 26, at  5:15 and 7:30.  The finals will be Wednesday, May 27 at 6 p.m.

On Monday night, Harrison County made short work of Deming, scoring five in the first, five in the second, four in the third and six in the fourth to overwhelm the Black Devils, 20-0.

Harrison County used four pitchers in the contest and combined on a one-hitter, and allowed only four base-runners, three of them coming on strikeouts that got past Thorobred catchers.

Dustin Sellers, Ryan Durbin, Mason Fowler and Matthew Dye took the mound for the Breds and struck out nine of the 15 outs recorded in the game.

Offensively, Harrison County was led by juniors Shane Fowler and Drew Thompson. Both clouted grand slam home runs in the game, Fowler’s coming in the first inning and Thompson’s in the fourth.

Thompson’s homer was his first career over-the-fence long ball and leaves him just a few behind career leader Shon Walker.

“I think Shon had something like 105 career home runs, so if I have a really strong post-season and a good senior year, I think I can catch him,” chuckled Thompson, who is now just 104 home runs away.

For the game, Harrison County battered Deming pitching for 17 hits and played error-free ball themselves.

In the other first-round game, Nicholas County starting pitcher Jordan Mynear pitched a complete game five-hitter and struck out nine as the Bluejackets got past Pendleton County and into the district title game, 1-0.

Mynear was also responsible for the game’s lone run, with a sixth inning double that drove in Kyle Campbell.

Nicholas County entered last night’s championship game with a 15-9 record, with two losses to Harrison County, 18-5 on April 13 and 10-0 on April 22.

For the 22nd straight year, Harrison County has eclipsed the 20 win plateau. The Breds record was 20-9 heading into last night.