Ashland coach Jeff Wilcox couldn’t remember coaching in a game that long. Boyd County’s Brandon Ramsey couldn’t either.
A matchup between the last two 16th Region champions at this season’s site for the region tournament turned out to be a baseball lover’s delight, unless they had ideas of an early bedtime.
Jared Slone finally put to rest an epic 12-inning battle between rivals in a showdown to stay atop the 64th District standings. The Tomcats emerged on top, 3-2, after what players called a “tiring” 3 hours and 40 minutes at Alumni Field.
Slone ripped a hanging curveball down the left-field line to send Jake Hall sprinting to home plate as jolly teammates burst onto the scene to meet Hall or tackle Slone between first and second base.
Slone, a junior who was 0-for-5 entering his 12th-inning at-bat with two outs, was ready for a breaking ball delivery from reliever Jacob Barnwell.
“After the first five at-bats or whatever I had, I was a little down on myself,” Slone said. “But I just listened to my teammates and they boosted my confidence up. They know I struggle with the curveball, and he gave me a hanging curveball inside and I just put the bat on it.”
Neither team had scored since the fifth inning.
Ramsey said he was glad he brought extra players.
“That’s the longest game I think was ever a participant of,” Ramsey said. “I had two guys left on the bench.”
The Lions (11-9) used four pitchers in all, while the Tomcats needed three. Aaron Elam got the win after working two innings, as Barnwell picked up the loss — he caught for nine innings and pitched three.
“That’s one of those games you hate to see somebody lose,” Wilcox said. “But we’re glad to be on the winning side.”
Logan Salow, who had 25 strikeouts in nine total innings before Tuesday, accumulated 11 Ks in five innings of relief. He was also 4-for-5 with two intentional walks at the plate.
Evan Yongue and Billy McCoy started the game for Ashland and Boyd County, respectively.
Ashland (11-7) squandered one of its better scoring chances in the eighth, when Hall led off with a single before Casey Clark reached on a bunt and moved onto second due to a Boyd County throwing error. After Lions pitcher Zack Patton induced a groundout, he intentionally walked Salow to load the bags with just one down. The righty then got Slone to ground out and Cade O’Bryan to pop out to shortstop.
In all, Ashland left 10 runners stranded in scoring position. The Tomcats led off eight different frames with a baserunner.
“We definitely pitched our way out of some jams,” Ramsey said. “We did a good job of that.”
Boyd County’s Robbie Shivel, the game’s first batter, scored with the assistance of two Ashland errors. The Lions added another in the fifth when Dylan Grimm scored on a passed ball after having singled and advancing to second on an error. He had moved on to third on a wild pitch.
Ashland answered in the bottom of the fifth to knot the game at 2-2. Salow led off the inning with a single, and then proceeded to steal second. O’Bryan blooped a single into left field to bring Salow in. O’Bryan later scored after Cam Fritz laced a single into right field and an ensuing throwing error sent him home.
Seven innings later, O’Bryan was just happy to wind up on the winning side of a memorable game between rivals who can’t seem to produce anything but tight contests. The last three meetings have gone the way of the Tomcats by one run apiece.
“Tiring, very tiring,” O’Bryan said. “We just had to bear down and we came through. I have to give credit to Cam (Fritz) for catching 12 innings of baseball.”
O’Bryan also accounted for one of the several key defensive plays in the game when he snared a liner off of first base.
Another defensive gem came early when Boyd County third baseman Jordan Smith snagged a foul popup by reaching over the railing just past the Ashland dugout. He also came up with a handful of pivotal putouts after moving to second base.
BOYD 100 010 000 000 — 2 6 3
ASH 000 020 000 001 — 3 15 6
McCoy, Patton (7), Anders (9), Barnwell (10) and Barnwell, West (10); Yongue, Salow (6), Elam (11) and Fritz. W—Elam. L—Barnwell. 2B—Salow (A).