Aces fall 7-6 in extra innings

No. 19 Owensboro Catholic built a lead three innings into the contest, but a late push from fourth-ranked Pleasure Ridge Park allowed the Panthers to capture a 7-6 baseball win in nine innings on a picture-perfect Saturday at Chautauqua Park’s Independence Bank Field.

The Aces (23-7) plated four runs in the bottom of the third frame to seize a 5-2 advantage, but PRP (28-3) scored in five of the following six innings for the come-from-behind victory.

“We pretty much played like some of them were worn out from graduation and Project Graduation, things like that — but we fought,” said OCHS head coach Jody Hamilton. “I thought our pitchers did a really good job. We just didn’t back them enough. That happens sometimes, but we’ll get better.

“We’re not making excuses, though. We still had a chance to win.”

The Panthers tied the contest at 5-5 on an RBI base hit by Hank Burns in the top of the seventh inning. Catholic got two runners on in the bottom of the frame but couldn’t manufacture any scores, leaving the game-winning run stranded at third base and forcing extra innings.

In the next frame, PRP leadoff batter Cooper Burkhart was hit by a pitch, moved to second base on a ground out and scored on Asious Kavich’s RBI base hit for a 6-5 advantage.

The Aces answered in the bottom of the eighth inning when Eli Blair led off with a double, moved to third on Houston Flynn’s bunt and then beat the relay throw home on Jaxson White’s sacrifice fly to left field.

The Panthers retook the lead for good in the top of the ninth, though. Brayden Bruner clubbed a base hit, advanced to second when Logan Strong was hit by a pitch and then scored on an error with Burkhart’s line drive to right field.

Catholic got two runners on again in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t get a hit with runners in scoring position.

“There are so many little things,” Hamilton said of the post-game message to his players. “This goes one way, this goes another way, and we win. But we’ll come back at it and try again next time.”

The Aces took an early lead when Flynn was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first, advanced to second base on White’s single, moved to third on Brady Atwell’s bunt and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Deuce Sims.

PRP went ahead with two runs in the top of the second, but Catholic scored four times in the third for a 5-2 lead. Atwell clubbed a leadoff home run to left field, Sims walked, Evans hit a base hit to right field, and Parker Heistand loaded the bases with a single. Moments later, Sims and Evans both scored on a wild pitch, and Mason Moser clubbed a sacrifice fly to center field.

Kavich ripped an RBI double to center field in the top of the fourth, and Strong added an RBI base hit in the fifth that trimmed PRP’s deficit to 5-4.

Heistand finished 3-for-5 with a run for Catholic, while Atwell went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. Barrett Evans added two hits with a run.

Kavich went 3-for-4 with a trio of RBIs for PRP, while Burns and Bruner added two hits apiece.

Catholic returns to action Tuesday when the Aces host Grayson County.

Game Stats

PRP 020 110 111 — 7 10 0

OC 104 000 010 — 6 11 2

WP-Howard. LP-White. 2B-Atwell, Blair (OC), Kavich, Burkhart, Burns (PRP). HR-Atwell (OC).