Ashland’s Post 76 Junior Sixers’ impressive postseason run has come to a halt.
Vying for an American Legion state championship, they needed one victory in two possible games against Paducah Post 31 on Sunday to advance to a national tournament in Arkansas.
They came up empty, falling 12-7 and 5-2 in two games. The Sixers had already beaten Paducah once to boot the team into the loser’s bracket, but couldn’t get everything clicking on Sunday afternoon.
Paducah pounced on Post 76 early in the first game, jetting out to a 9-1 lead. The Sixers battled back behind a good relief pitching effort by Alex Jones to lose by five.
Ashland took a quick 1-0 lead in the second contest, thanks to a Drew O’Bryan triple and run. However, Paducah struck back with three runs in the third and another in the fourth.
Down 4-2, the Sixers threatened in the sixth before leaving the tying run stranded on second base.
Starting pitcher Jacob McKee pitched well enough and “gave us a chance to win,” said Sixers coach Mark O’Bryan.
O’Bryan said Austin Wells and Matt Vincent both had solid days at the plate. Wells caught all but three innings of the tournament.
The Sixers began their run on Thursday with a 1-0 win over Lexington, which O’Bryan said was possibly the best team in the field.
They proceeded to beat Tri-County Legion and Paducah Post 31 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
O’Bryan said the they had to deal with a couple of injuries and were a little short-handed on the mound due to prior obligations on Sunday.
The Junior Sixers represent Raceland, Russell, East Carter and Ashland. They finished at 19-18 despite a difficult schedule containing many 19-and-under teams — the Junior Sixers are 17-and-under.
“We were 2-10 to start the year, but it was a very rigorous schedule,” said O’Bryan, the second-year head coach. “These kids showed a whole lot of character.”