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For the first time in three seasons, the Eighth Region will have a new champion when state tournament play begins next week as the North Oldham Mustangs were dealt a stunning 6-2 loss by Spencer County in semifinal play.
Normally sharp, North Oldham looked out of sorts against a Spencer County squad it had beaten 3-1 May 13, committing plenty of mental errors in the game’s opening innings.
Despite drawing first blood on a wild pitch in the top of the first, North handed back the lead minutes later on a pair of RBI singles by the Bears.
That misfortune carried over into the second inning as Spencer County added three more runs to put the game out of reach at 5-1.
The teams traded a pair of runs in the fourth inning, but that’s as close as North Oldham would get, falling 6-2 after a failed rally late.
“They took it,” North Oldham coach Erik Phelps said. “They were aggressive and they took it and we didn’t match; we didn’t make a play when we needed to make a play. That was baseball. They forced us to make plays and we didn’t. Hats off to them.”
With the loss, the team says goodbye to a senior class that has had an impressive run in their time in the teal and black, including four appearances in the Eighth Region tournament and two regional titles.
North Oldham finishes the season with an 18-12 record.
COLLINS 7, SOUTH OLDHAM 6
Trailing No. 12 Collins by four runs, the South Oldham Dragons mounted a furious comeback in the last three innings of their Eighth Region tournament opener, but fell just short in their upset bid, dropping a 7-6 heartbreaker to end their season.
South struck first on a sacrifice fly from Tyler Fitch in the game’s opening at-bats. Collins had an answer in the bottom of the second inning, piling on four runs to retake the lead at 4-1.
The Dragons cut into the lead in the top of fourth on a home run from TiCorion Williams and an RBI double from Alec Furrow. But the Titans added four more an inning later to push ahead 7-3.
South mounted one final push in the sixth inning, scoring three runs on an RBI bunt by Furrow and RBIs from Alec Straker and Drew Greenwood.
That’s as close as the Dragons would get as a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh killed the rally.
“When you’re down four runs against Collins, it’s tough to jump back and get back in the baseball game,” South Oldham coach Matt Wilson said. “But our guys did it. We were right there and had an opportunity. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall the way you want it, and it didn’t fall our way.”
The Dragons finish the season 19-16.
NORTH OLDHAM 14, WALTON-VERONA 2
After surrendering a run in the top of the first inning, the North Oldham Mustangs settled down in their Eighth Region tournament opener, allowing just one more in the next six innings to move past Walton-Verona 14-2.
Ethan Cleary got things started for North Oldham in the bottom of the first, scoring Connor Heady on a sacrifice bunt and the Mustangs never trailed again, taking the lead an inning later on a sacrifice fly from Willem Letsch.
After Walton-Verona pulled even in the top of the third, the flood gates opened in the bottom half of the inning as North Oldham piled on five runs, highlighted by a home run from Heady, RBI singles from Tanner Risenger, and Letsch and a two RBI double from Roman Millem.
Millem wasn’t finished though, spearheading a seven-run fourth to close out the game with a two RBI triple, while Caleb Kellogg and Cleary added two RBI hits as well.
Millem finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBI to lead North, while Letsch and Cleary added three RBIs each.
“I don’t know, I just felt good today,” Millem said, smiling. “He was throwing some good pitches but never really threw me a ball I couldn’t take. I go up there and I’m not afraid to make a mistake (because of the guys around me.) We’re going into our next game playing our best baseball of the year.”
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