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HILLVIEW - After a tough 6-3 setback to Okolona in the opening round of the 13-year-old District tournament, Blue Lick skipper Tommy Parker challenged his players to stay confident.
In fact, he said the team was right where he wanted it.
Through a bizarre situation, Blue Lick turned out to be in the right spot at the right time and, in fact, did come back to win consecutive games on Thursday to capture the district title and advance to the state tournament this week in Henderson.
Although Okolona defeated both Blue Lick and Germantown, it was discovered that the winning team had used two players who were not eligible. Okolona could have played Blue Lick in the loser’s bracket final on Thursday but opted to withdraw from the tournament.
That left Blue Lick needed to beat Germantown twice to earn the title. Both teams were advancing to the state tournament no matter the outcome.
Behind the pitching of Kyle Hoskins and a few timely hits, Blue Lick stayed alive by winning the opening game 3-2 on Thursday.
Parker said both teams had trouble hitting the ball but both pitchers were in command most of the way.
The victory set up the finale.
The host team jumped on top 1-0 in the first inning. Tyler Mayberry singled and advanced to third on Tyler Capito’s infield single. Hoskins’ fielder’s choice plated the first run.
However, Germantown came back and scored on a leadoff double, a single and a pair of fielder’s choices.
Blue Lick came back with its own pair of runs in the second. Jimmy Keating doubled and Ethan Hester also doubled. An error by the shortstop on Mayberry’s grounder scored Hester.
Capito averted big trouble in the second.
A single by Germantown turned into a simple out when Hester’s throw from right field beat the runner at first. That was huge as Germantown followed with a single sandwiched in between two Blue Lick errors. The visitors got one run on a sacrifice fly but had a runner picked off third base when Luke Hayden walked to end the inning.
Blue Lick jumped back on top 5-3 in the fifth.
Mayberry led off with a double and Capito helped his own cause with an RBI double. Hoskins reached on an error and Capito scored on a wild pitch.
Parker tried to steal another run but Keating was tagged for the third out in a rundown prior to Brandon Johnson crossing the plate.
After a brief delay due to the lights going out, Blue Lick scored what would turn out to be the deciding run in the sixth.
Austin Tucker singled and Wesley Parker bunted him to second. Darren Harper followed with an RBI single.
After Germantown closed the gap to 6-4 in the sixth, Mayberry was called upon to close out the game.
Things got dicey real quick as an error on the leadoff batter was followed by a double. Mayberry followed that with a walk to load the bases.
After the first of three strikeouts in the inning, an RBI single closed the gap to 6-5 with the bases loaded.
Mayberry finished the deal by striking out the final two batters for the6-5 win.
After receiving a cool splash of water from his players, Parker said he was pleased with the effort.
“We’ve gone to the state the past couple of years but we’ve never gone in as a district winner,” said Parker, who coached the 11-year-old team in 2004 to a state title and a regional berth. “We really stayed focused tonight.”
Most of the players have been together for a number of years and have also played together in tournament competition. A key has been playing against the good competition.
“The boys have experience,” said Parker. “But we’ve got to play better at the state.”
Going into the state tournament, which should begin on Wednesday, Parker said he wasn’t worried about pitching depth, which is important in a long tournament. He wasn’t worried about the defense until some errors cost the team in the district tournament.
“I think were among the two or three best teams there,” said Parker of the team’s chances. “I think we can contend.”
In the tourney opener, Okolona jumped on top in the first inning with a single run. Dakota Perry’s double would result in the first tally.
Blue Lick, facing North Bullitt Eagle Josh Exton on the hill, evened the score in the bottom of the first.
Tyler Mayberry led off with a walk and Luke Sivori sacrificed him to second. Tyler Capito brought home the runner with a single.
The host team took the lead in the bottom of the second. James Keating was hit by a pitch and Austin Tucker bunted him to second. After Wesley Parker singled to left to put runners on the corner, a balk call on Exton plated Keating.
Blue Lick pitcher Brandon Johnson had his lone bad inning of the game in the third.
Two consecutive walks and an error on Johnson following a sacrifice bunt, loaded the bases. Perry followed with an RBI single and a walk plated another run before a single closed out the scoring with Okolona on top 5-2.
Exton picked up the victory with Cameron Revelette pitching in relief.
Members of the Blue Lick 13-year-old All-Star team included Zac Boughey, Tyler Capito, Brendan Gritton, Darren Harper, Ethan Hester, Kyle Hoskins, Brandon Johnson, James Keating, Tyler Mayberry, Wesley Parker, Nathaniel Rivera, Luke Sivori and Austin Tucker.
Head coach Tommy Parker is assisted by Challis Ford and Bobby Capito.