Still steadily chomping on some bubble gum — I can only imagine the rubbery tastelessness if he hadn’t exchanged it for a fresh piece since the first pitch — Ashland baseball coach Jeff Wilcox stayed energetic at third base, shouting encouragement to his batters as inning after inning transpired.
The 57-year-old couldn't believe his eyes when he turned around to glance at the crowd during the late moments of Tuesday's 12-inning duel with Boyd County.
“Nobody was leaving,” he said.
What shocked him most was that among those staying put sat Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox.
“My mom and dad, their bedtime is 8 o’clock, and they were still here,” Wilcox said with a smile afterward. “I couldn't believe it.”
Three hours and 40 minutes after the very first pitch, Jared Slone poked a lined shot down the left-field line to bring in the winning run (Jake Hall) and Ashland ended perhaps the longest game ever to be played in the Tomcat-Lion longstanding series.
Here’s the amazing thing: It didn’t even reach the halfway point of the longest high school game ever reported — California schools San Lorenzo and Hayward played 25 total innings spread over two days back in 1975.
But, the game certainly accounted for yet another scintillating chapter inside the ongoing storybook written about this rivalry.
Last week, the Shortstop gave his readers some figures to fixate upon. He should’ve gone back even further…
Try this one on for size: Since the start of 2010, Boyd County and Ashland have met 12 times. Each team is 6-6, and each team has scored 45 runs.
Double check me on this, but I’m pretty sure it can’t get any closer. That is the mark of a true rivalry.
‰A couple more notes about Ashland-Boyd County baseball:
— You don’t have to dig through the record books to find the last extra-inning affair between the Lions and Tomcats. Boyd County beat Ashland 2-0 in eight innings in the 2012 64th District championship.
— With two one-run games so far, it’s beginning to look like 2004, when all four meetings resulted in one-run decisions.
— Logan Salow threw 82 pitches on Tuesday, the most the future Kentucky preferred walk-on has tossed all season. He fanned 11 hitters over five innings.
‰Just inside a couple hours prior to — and about 100 yards away from — Ashland's baseball defeat of Boyd County, the Ashland softball squad cheered on ace pitcher Megan Hensley as she whipped up a second straight no-hitter with her busy right arm. Hensley capped off a sensational individual week when she relented just one run in a win over Boyd County on Thursday.
‰Sick of reading about Ashland yet? Well, don't look at the Super Seven this week. The Tomcats have made the climb to join the Kittens atop the pack … for now, at least.
‰Winners of seven in a row and 12 of their last 14, the Raceland Lady Rams are just begging for some publicity. Well, they’ve earned it. Behind the steady pitching of Kelsey Diller and a well-rounded offense, Raceland has made its home field the place to be this week. The Lady Rams host West Carter, Lawrence County, Symmes Valley and Ashland during the next five days.
‰Paintsville baseball finally saw its streak end. The 15th Region surprise contender — or at least the Tigers surprised me — lost to Huntington after tallying 10 consecutive victories.
‰Back to softball, but sticking with surprises, the Fairview Lady Eagles knocked off East Carter on Tuesday. Kara Adkins and Maddie Kirk accounted for the game-tying and game-winning RBIs, respectively, as Fairview continues to gain respect on the softball diamond.
‰Greenup County will try to avenge a strange six-inning rain-shortened loss at Rowan County as the Musketeers host the Vikings tonight. Will McCall, one of the team's top pitchers/players, is set to return today from an injury.
‰Russell seems to always have a knack for two things: putting the bat on the ball and making a run in May. On the heels of an impressive victory over Bath County, the Red Devils are at it again. They welcome Ashland onto their renovated facility on Tuesday.
Greenup County gets a shot at the Tomcats on Friday — the Musketeers won the first meeting.
‰Boyd County baseball will host its annual Derby Classic this weekend, starting on Thursday with what could be a dandy of a matchup between the Lions and Lawrence County. East Carter, Spring Valley and Cooper are also set to come to Addington Field.
‰Keep an eye on the sports section this week, as you should every day, becuase the Shortstop plans to print statistical leaders for the area very soon.
1. Ashland (13-7)
2. Boyd County (13-9)
3. Greenup County (13-8)
4. Lewis County (14-8)
5. Bath County (12-5)
6. East Carter (12-11)
7. Russell (12-11)
1. Ashland (16-7)
2. Boyd County (12-9)
3. Rowan County (16-9)
4. Russell (8-8)
5. Raceland (13-8)
6. Greenup County (10-11)
7. East Carter (16-7)
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AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.