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MOUNT WASHINGTON – For three straight weeks, Bullitt East baseball head coach Jeff Bowles has been running his team through ‘mini regional tournaments’, three game series against top-flight competition.
After going 3-0 over three days in the Louisville Invitational Tournament the previous weekend, the Chargers faced any even tough group of teams late last week, but the red and gold responded well, beating Sixth Region rivals DeSales and Butler sandwiched around an extra-inning loss to defending state champion Pleasure Ridge Park.
The best news for the week was that the Chargers are slowly starting to hit the ball better. The pitching has been strong all season, but Bowles feels that make a long run in the post-season that the offense will have to pick up the pace.
“I think we’re starting to wake up with the bats,” the veteran coach said over the weekend. “We are starting to get some timely hits. (Zac) Ching had a home run and Jacob (Bowles) had some key hits with two outs. We’re starting to hit it at the right time.
“We were right there with PRP,” the coach added. “I feel good with where we are. They know we were right there with them.”
Bullitt East is ranked 24th in the state at this point.
The week started on Wednesday after some bad weather had kept the team out of action earlier in the week. This time the Chargers jumped on top early and then held on for a 3-2 victory.
The Chargers scored twice in the first inning and made it 3-0 in the fourth inning before DeSales scored twice in the sixth.
On the mound, the Chargers got a strong outing from senior Alex Ralph who is working his way back into pitching shape after an injury. He worked for five and a third innings on Wednesday and none of the runs was earned. He had three strikeouts and walked four.
“He pitched well,” Bowles said. “He got a little tired. He’s big and strong so it will come.”
Hayden Davenport came in and got the last five outs as he faced just five batters.
Bullitt East had six hits in the win with two of those hits coming off the bat of senior Chase Patton. Zac Masden had a triple while Patton, Jacob Reece and Ching each drove in a run.
On Thursday, Pleasure Ridge Park made its first visit ever to Mount Washington for a baseball game. Bullitt East played at PRP last year and the teams often meet in the Sixth Region Tournament, but until last year, the teams did not meet in the regular season.
This game was close throughout. PRP got a run in the first inning and then added two more in the fifth, but Bullitt East responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. That score stood until PRP got the 4-3 win with a run in the top of the eighth inning.
Down 3-0, the Chargers broke through in the bottom of the fifth with the help of the bottom of the line-up. Dillon Coffman and Brayden Blair walked to start the inning before PRP struck out the next two batters. Patton then came through with a single that scored two runs before Ralph followed with a single to plate Patton with the tying run.
In the top of the eighth, the visitors got a lead-off double and later a two-out double to score the go-ahead run.
Tyler Krauth was the starting pitcher for the Chargers and he had a strong outing. He worked seven and two-thirds innings before taking the loss. The senior allowed only five hits, but three of the four runs were earned.
Davenport again worked in relief, facing one batter to end the eighth inning.
Bullitt East went quietly in the bottom of the eighth.
The Chargers did finish with two more hits than the Panthers, collecting seven hits. Patton had two hits for the Chargers including a double.
On Friday, with no school, the Chargers had an early start with Butler and the red and gold made it work as they pulled out a 5-3 victory behind the pitching of Patton.
Bullitt East led after scoring a run in the second inning, but Butler came back to take a short lead with runs in the third and fourth frames. Bullitt East then scored three times in the fifth inning before holding off Butler as they scored a run in the top of the seventh.
Patton worked the first six innings and the senior finished with six strikeouts and five walks while allowing seven hits. Two of the runs were earned.
Adrian Maddox came on and got two outs in the seventh inning before Davenport came on for the third straight game to get the save as he had to throw only three pitches.
Bullitt East had only five hits, but they were timely. Ching had a two run home run in the fifth inning and Bowles had two singles with two runs driven in. Ralph had a double. Reece, a freshman, scored the first run in the fifth inning when he stole home.
The three games last week left Bullitt East with a 20-6 record with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
The final ‘mini regional tournament’ will come this weekend as the Chargers will host the ValuMarket Charger Challenge with Boone County, St. Xavier and Boone County taking part.
Bullitt East will take on St. Xavier at 5 p.m. on Friday before Boone County and Trinity play at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the action will start at 10 a.m. with Bullitt East playing Boone County. After St. X and Trinity play at 12:30 p.m. and St. X takes on Boone County at 3 p.m., the Chargers will close out the event with a game against Trinity at 5:30 p.m.