Oh My! Triple play lifts North past BE 3-0

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By Mike Farner

 HEBRON ESTATES - A rare triple play ended a nail-biter of a 24th District baseball game on Tuesday as the North Bullitt Eagles survived a late scare to beat arch-rival Bullitt East 3-0.

The shut-out victory went to Eagle senior pitcher T.J. Barr who worked through a rough start and then threw three hitless innings before tiring in the seventh. Barr walked the first batter he faced in the seventh, Kyle Ethridge, and that was followed by a double by pinch-hitter Adam Howell.

North Bullitt head coach Brian Wise then went to the mound and called in Blake Hardy. The senior was wild and walked Cody Morris on five pitches to load the bases. That brought lead-off batter Coulten Maupin to the plate. After a pitch was fouled off, Wise was forced to throw a new ball into the game.

Maupin caught the new ball on the sweet spot, but the ball went just to the left of North Bullitt shortstop Clayton Kelly. The sophomore caught the line-drive and then took three steps to touch second base before firing to first to complete the triple play.

Wise said it was a late decision to start Barr who had pitched well in his last outing when the team was in Myrtle Beach for spring break.

“I told him at about 3:30,” the coach said of letting Barr know he would pitch in the 5 p.m. game.

When did the coach make his decision?

“At about 3:29,” Wise said with a smile.

“I went back and forth,” the coach said in a more serious tone. “Our plan (earlier in the week) was to throw (Tyler) Shewmaker. Then (Cody) Stinnett had the back injury and that moved Tyler to catcher. We didn’t want to go to our number three catcher so that took Tyler out of the mix.

“I thought T.J. had responded well all year,” Wise added. “But, he hadn’t thrown against this caliber of an opponent.”

Bullitt East (10-5) collected five hits over the first three innings but left six runners stranded. That set the tone for the rest of the game. Maupin was left stranded at third base to end the first inning and then the Chargers left runners at first and second in the second and at first and third again in the third inning.

North Bullitt (11-7) wasn’t faring any better at the plate. In fact, Barr had the only hit for the Eagles off of Morris, the Charger starter, through the first four innings.

In the fifth, North Bullitt opened the inning with a single by Shewmaker and then courtesy runner Anthony Kennedy moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mitchell Hutchison. Kennedy then moved to third on Reed Padgett’s ground-out. That brought number eight-hitter Will Parker to the plate and with two strikes, he laced a shot down the third base line for a double that scored the first run of the game.

In the sixth, the Eagles added to their advantage with three hits. Kelly opened the inning with a single and when Barr bunted down the third base line, Bullitt East threw the ball away at first. Morris then intentionally walked Cody Montgomery to load the bases.

Marcel Hull made the Chargers pay for that with a single that scored Kelly. Shewmaker then singled to move the score to 3-0.

The loss marked a second straight trip to North Bullitt in recent years in which Bullitt East has failed to score. Two years ago, the Chargers lost 1-0 during a season in which they would eventually win the Sixth Region title and reach the semi-finals of the state tournament.

Bullitt East has not scored a run at North Bullitt since the 2007 24th District Tournament.

“Disappointing,” was the first word from Bullitt East head coach Jeff Bowles whose team finished with six hits and left eight runners on base. “Put that in all caps. That’s all we can say.

“My hat is off to them,” the coach added. “Mr. Barr kept us on our front foot. Seven of our 21 outs were pop-ups. We had some guys think they can hit it out because they hit one out in batting practice.”

Barr finished with six innings in the book and he allowed six hits while striking out two and walking three.

The only extra base hit for the Chargers was a double from Chaz Jackson as six different players accounted for the six Bullitt East hits.

North Bullitt finished with six hits off of Morris and left five runners stranded including three in the sixth inning. Shewmaker had two of the six hits for the Eagles.

Morris struck-out six in his six innings of work and he walked only one batter.

The win gave North Bullitt a 1-0 record in the seeding process for the 24th District Tournament. Bullitt East dropped to 1-1 in those standings.

This was the only regular season meeting between the two teams this season.

See Wednesday’s edition for a recap of the rest of the games last week for both teams.