By AARON SNYDER
CANNONSBURG After dropping into the loser’s bracket of the Eastern Kentucky Summer Baseball League Tournament, Greenup County knew it would have to reel off four consecutive victories just to earn a chance at winning it.
The Musketeers answered that call with a string of stellar pitching performances. They will face Johnson Central tonight at 6 at Boyd County’s Addington Field for the league championship and to advance to a state tournament.
The second-year league engaged in its first tournament following a short season. The nine teams — Lawrence County, Prestonsburg, East Carter, Boyd County, Johnson Central, Rowan County, Greenup County, Paintsville and Russell — consist of high school players who will return next season.
After beating Prestonsburg on Saturday night, Greenup County pitchers turned in three straight complete games on Sunday to force today’s decisive affair. With the tournament originally set to end with what would have been a fourth game for Greenup County on Sunday, both teams agreed to push the title game back to today.
Left-hander Jesse Hall pitched all six innings of a 9-0 defeat of Boyd County to start off the day. Charles Frazier, a right-hander, followed that up with a seven-inning gem in a 2-1 victory over Lawrence County. Righty Christian Wireman dressed the cake with icing as he dealt seven innings in a 4-0 shutout of Johnson Central.
The only run allowed all day was unearned. Lawrence County left the potential tying run stranded at third base as Frazier induced a groundout to end that game.
Shining defense was also on display for the Musketeers, especially among the middle of the infield between second baseman Gage Hughes and shortstop Chase Clary.
Clary recorded every single out of the fourth inning on ground balls.
Hughes, Hall and J.B. Brown paced the Musketeers’ offense.
Greenup County coach Greg Logan said the league has been beneficial.
“It gives kids the opportunity to work on their game during the summer,” Logan said. “It allows you to play without having to travel much. Other regions, other teams in the state are playing pretty much every day. If we’re ever going to compete and make a deep run in the state tournament, these are the steps you’ve got to take.
“(Boyd County coach Brandon Ramsey) played a big part in getting this league going,” added the Musketeers coach. “I think it’s great any time high school teams can get together.”
Greenup County arms force decisive game for Eastern Kentucky Baseball League
By AARON SNYDER
- Local Sports
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
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- VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights