Bath County junior Austin Robinson went from Wednesday's designated hitter to designated winner with one swing.
How? His bases loaded, bottom-of-the-seventh single gave the Wildcats the 61st District baseball title, a 4-3 win over Rowan County at Fleming County High School.
Robinson's championship hit was his second run batted in — he doubled home a run in the third inning. He admitted the single was “me just swinging out of my shoes trying to get it to the outfield so somebody could score.
“It was a fastball, it was decently high, but it was a hittable pitch,” Robinson said. “... This is the best hit I've ever had.”
And thus Bath County (20-9) won its first district title wince 2002, when coach Brock Baber was a junior.
“I don't really remember 2002,” Baber said. “(Last night) means more just to see these kids grow and work toward this.”
Would Bath County have been in position for Robinson's heroics if not for senior Cable Wright's pitching? Well, no — he struck out 15, including the last five he faced, and he scored the winning run after singling to center.
“I was throwing everything for strikes,” Wright said. “The defense played behind me.”
After the Vikings beat Bath County, 3-2, in eight innings on May 3 in Owingsville, Wright and Baber talked about using more of the plate because Wright's pitches have lots of movement, which Baber said would benefit Wright next fall at Morehead State University. Wright's adjustment worked Wednesday.
“I was throwing more to the inside of the plate, so they couldn't rely on the outside pitch,” Wright said.
Rowan County fell to 18-17, but the Vikings are also 11-3 over their last 14 games and 17-5 over their last 22.
“We started believing in ourselves, believing we can compete with anybody,” Vikings coach Jason Davis said. “That's what I told these boys; whatever happens from here on out, they're already winners.”
Bath County took a 2-0 lead after two innings by taking advantage of some of its scoring chances.
In the first, shortstop Brandon Fryman doubled to right and scored two batters later when Wright reached first on an error. In the second, left fielder Tyler Wright walked, went to second on Jordan Highley's sacrifice bunt and scored on Broderick Moore's double to center.
After Wright struck out the side in the first, Vikings catcher Jordan Cornett opened the second with a double to right. He reached third on second baseman John Curry's sacrifice bunt — and stayed there when Wright struck out Kyle Bowling and first baseman David Sachs flew out to center.
Rowan County starter Tyler Arthur halted a first-inning Wildcat rally by striking out Clark Kissick and forcing a Robinson grounder. In the second, Fryman flew to center and Brandon Kenney fouled out to first.
The first of two lightning strikes on the horizon stopped things at around 7:26 p.m., followed by moderate rain and a second strike. The game resumed at about 8:43 p.m.
Wright struggled and recovered in the third — after striking out Arthur and walking Devin Helvey and Harold Chapman, he caught Cameron Planck looking at a third strike and a force out of Chapman.
Bath County took its to 3-0 lead in the third inning when Robinson's double scored South Whitt from first.
Somebody should buy Moore breakfast, lunch and dinner today for what he did to end Rowan County's fourth inning last night. He slid into the right field fence in foul territory — and grabbed Sachs' fly into what is essentially a dark spot of the field, possibly earning some stitches on his forehead, where he sported a large bandage.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Wright was the central figure in Rowan County's two-run fifth inning — he fumbled Cornett's foul pop-up — followed by Cornett's two-run ground rule double to center. His wild pitch in the sixth plated Kyle Bowling, who had doubled.
Justin Graham relieved Arthur one out into the fourth, and he held Bath scoreless for 2 2/3 innings.
ROWAN CO. 000 021 0 — 3 6 2
BATH CO. 111 000 1 — 4 7 1
Arthur, Graham (4) and Cornett. C. Wright and Whitt. W-C. Wright. LP-Graham. 2B-Fryman (BC), Cornett (RC) 2, Moore (BC), Robinson (BC), Bowling (RC).