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Rapid Reaction: Colonel baseball defeats North Oldham

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By Sam Draut

After North Oldham defeated Oldham County 5-2 Monday night in the first district 29 game of the season, the Colonels returned the favor with a 4-0 win Wednesday in Buckner. Tyler Morrison pitched a complete-game one-hitter to help the Colonels split the regular season series. The junior also did damage at the plating, hitting a solo home run and driving in another run on a single.

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Dueling

Starting pitchers Tyler Morrison (Oldham County) and Bryce Barber (North Oldham) battled back-and-forth in a classic pitchers' duel. Morrison control North Oldham hitters and didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning while Barber gave up his first hit, a home run by Morrison in the fourth inning. Barber allowed three runs in the sixth inning, but held Oldham County to two hits in five and 1/3 innings while striking out three.

Morrison had an impressive line of seven innings, one hit, one walk and six strike outs.

"In the very beginning I was getting first pitch strikes, commanding the fastball," Morrison said. "Once they started swinging at first pitches, I was able to throw some junk and they started swinging at those pitches."

On Monday, Morrison played first base for Oldham County and said seeing the hitters tendencies helped prepare him for Wednesday night. Oldham County coach Levi Bristow asked Morrison where he preferred to pitch since he has been the team's best starter this season. Morrison chose to wait and pitch at home.

For Barber, who was just making his second start of the season, strung together several scoreless innings before allowing the game's first run.

"I thought he pitched well," North Oldham coach Zach Ivester said. "I was pleased with the way he threw."

Insurance 

Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Oldham County added two runs for some breathing room heading into the final inning. With one out, Chris Seng drew a walk and Grant Larimore reached first base after being hit by a pitch. After Larimore and Seng advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, Gabe Bratetic, who Bristow said has been the team's most consistent hitter, sent a deep shot to left field for a two-run double to give Oldham County a 3-0 lead. Morrison drove Bratetic home on a single up the middle. 

Bristow told hitters to be patient in their final at-bats because of Barber's rising pitch count.

Run saving relay

Cameron Masterman reached base on a walk with one out in the top of the fourth inning. The senior advanced to second on a balk by Tyler Morrison, the first time in the game a Mustang was in scoring position. Seth Bacon hit a deep fly ball in the right field corner and Masterman tagged up from second as Mason Donner made the catch. Masterman to advance to third, and then headed home as Grant Larimore received the relay throw from Donner. Larimore’s throw was a few feet up the line, but ended up being put in an ideal spot as Oldham County catcher Matt Baker applied the tag on Masterman.

"It was a perfect sequence of alignment," Bristow said. "Grant has the strongest arm on the team, so I thought we had a chance to get the runner."

Solo Shot

It took 23 outs until the game’s first hit, but Morrison broke up the no-hitter in a big way. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning and a full count, Morrison lifted a pitch from Barber over the right field wall for a solo home run, giving the Colonels a 1-0 lead.

"I was sitting fastball and had two strikes," Morrison said. "I knew he was coming at me, I choked up a little and got an inside pitch. I got under it a little bit, but with the short porch in right field I was able to muscle it over."

Broken up

Bryce Heagy broke up Morrison’s no-hit bid on a bloop single up in shallow centerfield with one out in the sixth inning. After Ethan Youngblood struck out, Heagy advanced to second on a pickoff attempt by Morrison that went past first baseman Brandon Hackworth. With Heagy in scoring position and two outs, Morrison struck out Masterman with a high fastball on a 2-2 count to end the threat.

Morrison knew he was throwing a no-hitter, but didn't want it to get too wrapped up in his mind.

"I wasn't going to try to worry about it," Morrison said. "I didn't want to start overthrowing and give up a hit. I was worried about winning the ball game because it was 1-0 at that point when I gave up my first hit."

Slowing swipes

On Monday, Chris Seng swiped 5 of the Colonels 12 stolen bases. Oldham County has been aggressive on the base paths throughout the year, so slowing the running game was an emphasis for North Oldham starting pitcher Bryce Barber. The senior was tested early as Seng reached on a leadoff walk in the first inning, but Barbour had quick move to first base and picked off Seng as Grant Larimore stood at the plate.

In the second inning, Barber picked off Cooper Gordon at second base for the second out. Oldham County had a runner on base in each of the first thee inning, but didn’t steal a base. Barber was able to slow down the potent Colonel running game by varying his looks and timing to the plate.

North Oldham relief pitcher Max Sander picked off a runner at second base in the sixth inning as well. Ivester said the team didn't work on limiting base stealers in practice on Tuesday, but he knew both Barber and Sander limit base stealers. 

"We talked about it on the game on Monday, but it isn't really something we worked on," Ivester said. "(Holding runners) kept us in the game."

Up Next

Before the game against North Oldham, Bristow told his team to continue to build upon their strengths, pitching and base stealing. Oldham County will two games against district rival Trimble County next week. 

After two games against Oldham County this week, North Oldham will play South Oldham twice next week. 

"We still have every opportunity to go out and get the number one seed in the district," Ivester said. "We have to win two next week."