Blue Lick 14 closes in on regional berth

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By Thomas Barr

  FRANKLIN - Just one more game and the Blue Lick 14 All-Stars will be on their way to the Ohio Valley Regional tournament in Robinson, Ill.

But they will have to await their opponent on Tuesday night.

Due to rain, the state Babe Ruth tournament was pushed back. On Sunday, Blue Lick defeated the host Franklin-Simpson squad to claim the winner’s bracket title.

On Tuesday, the survivor of two games on Monday would get another shot at Blue Lick. That survivor would have to win two straight games against Blue Lick to move onto the regional tourney.

After sweeping through the district tournament without a loss, Blue Lick met with little resistance in its early round games.

With Tyler Capito on the hill, Blue Lick defeated Henderson County 10-6 in the opening round. That came against the team that won the state tournament last year and eliminated Blue Lick.

On Saturday, Brandon Johnson overcame a shaky start to throw a one-hitter en route to a 7-1 victory over Highview.

To reach the winner’s bracket final on Sunday, Franklin-Simpson had to defeat Hikes Point, Cumberland County and Germantown, which finished as the district runner-up to Blue Lick.

With Darren Harper on the hill, Blue Lick jumped out on top in the opening inning.

Capito reached on an error and Kyle Hoskins drew a two-out walk off Cody James. Catcher Chance Egnor singled home the first run.

Harper, who hadn’t pitched for several weeks due to some arm soreness, looked a bit rusty as Franklin-Simpson reached him for three singles; however, Blue Lick escaped without a run crossing the plate.

In the second inning, Patrick Malone led off with a walk. With two outs, Justin Belt singled to center. Pinch-runner Wesley Parker scored with Tyler Mayberry lined a double to left field and Belt scored on Capito’s single.

With the 3-0 lead, Harper was cruising on the hill. He departed after five innings without giving up a run.

Franklin-Simpson got a run back in the sixth inning off Mayberry. A double by Taylor Jackson led to a run on a fielder’s choice.

Blue Lick put things away in the top of the seventh.

Kyle Hoskins, Egnor and Brandon Johnson all singled to load the bases.

Austin Tucker attempted to squeeze home a run. Despite missing the ball, Hoskins was able to score. On his second attempt, Tucker put down the successful bunt to score Egnor.

Johnson scored on a stolen base when the throw went down to second.

James Constant closed out the inning with an RBI single to score Tucker.

Up 7-1, Hoskins got the call to close out the 7-1 victory.

Franklin-Simpson would play the winner of the Henderson County-Highview game at 5 p.m. on Monday. The winner of that game would come back to play Blue Lick at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

If Blue Lick lost the first game, the last game for the regional berth would be played at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

The state winner must be in Illinois by Thursday morning.

Going into the post-season, Parker said he felt confident about his team.

"We don't have a weak link," said Parker. "All 13 players, you could put any lineup out there and be very competitive."

That gives him the ability to juggle lineups and make substitutions based on the need. And with 6-8 kids who can pitch, Parker said there is a lot of flexibility, especially in tournament play.

Defensively, Parker said the team is solid at every position.

The Blue Lick 14 All-Stars include Justin Belt, Tyler Capito, James Constant, Chance Egnor, Darren Harper, Kyle Hoskins, Brandon Johnson, Patrick Malone, Tyler Mayberry, Wesley Parker, Carl Phillips, Luke Sivori and Austin Tucker.

Manager Tommy Parker is assisted by Challis Ford and Jamie Mayberry.