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FRANKLIN - Scoring five runs in the first two innings, the Blue Lick 14 All-Stars collected the program’s fourth state tournament in the past 16 years.
Blue Lick went undefeated in the state Babe Ruth tournament by defeating Henderson County 5-2.
Last year, it was Henderson that knocked Blue Lick out of the 13-year-old state tournament.
The team advanced to the Ohio Valley Regional tournament in Robinson, Ill., where play continues this week.
Blue Lick got started right out of the gate as Tyler Mayberry led off with a double to left field. Luke Sivori brought Mayberry home with a single and he would advance to third on Kyle Hoskins’ RBI single.
In the second, Blue Lick would score its final three runs.
Starting pitcher Brandon Johnson reached on an error and went to second on the bad throw. C.J. Phillips reached on an infield single and Justin Belt’s fielder’s choice scored pinch-runner James Constant.
Mayberry then hit his second double to plate Phillips. He would score when Sivori’s grounder was misplayed.
From that point on, the Blue Lick defense backed up the strong pitching of Johnson and Tyler Capito for the state championship win.
Johnson, who threw a one-hitter in the second round against Highview, went five innings and struck out seven. Capito pitched the final two innings for the save.
Henderson County brought the tying runner to the plate in the sixth but could not get any closer than 5-2.
While Blue Lick did have eight hits, Henderson County fielders also hurt their own cause with six errors.
Manager Tommy Parker said his teams had come close in the past but he felt much better this year.
One reason was the addition of Chance Egnor to the roster. With Egnor catching most of the innings, Parker said it allowed Mayberry and Hoskins to play the field.
“It made our defense much stronger,” said Parker.
It was also a situation were the pieces just fell together.
“We came in expecting to win,” said Parker, who coached his second state championship team.
With a strong hitting team throughout the roster and the ability to put a very strong defensive unit on the field, Parker said there was a little pressure on Blue Lick.
Having defeated the defending state champs in the opening game, Parker said that’s when the pressure began to increase.
In looking at the district and state games, Parker said everyone on the 13-man roster contributed in many ways.
He was especially pleased to see Johnson have another strong outing on the hill. At times during the regular season, Parker said the right-hander struggled. However, he said Johnson’s maturity was evident as he pitched superb back-to-back games.
Defeating Henderson County twice was special, said Parker. Knowing the team has a good program, Parker said it proves that Blue Lick can play with the elite in the state.
“It was an excellent tournament,” said Parker.
Looking back at his 2004 championship team, which won the 11-year-old title and went on to finish fourth in the regional tournament, Parker said that was a situation where everything worked out perfectly over a two-week period. Going into the state tournament, Parker said Blue Lick was probably the third-best team.
However, everything came together for a fantastic run.
This year, he felt Blue Lick had a legitimate shot at the state and to do well in the regional.
“I think we can make some noise,” Parker said before the first game on Friday against the Southern Indiana state champs. “But this is icing on the cake.”
The Blue Lick 14 All-Stars included: Justin Belt, Tyler Capito, James Constant, Chance Egnor, Darren Harper, Kyle Hoskins, Brandon Johnson, Patrick Malone, Tyler Mayberry, Wesley Parker, C.J. Phillips, Luke Sivori and Austin Tucker. Parker was assisted by Challis Ford and Jamie Mayberry.
For the program, this is the fourth state title.
The 18-year-old team won in 1995 with Parker’s assistant, Ford, at the helm. Ford was also an assistant with Tony Abell on the 11-year-old team.
The program also won the 10-year-old title three years ago with coach Jason Kelly.