Johnson Central outfinished Boyd County in a cold-weather struggle Friday night.
After the sun dropped on the horizon, temperatures fell through the evening hours bringing a teeth-chattering chill to Addington Field.
Locked in a 1-1 tie since the third inning, the high-profile baseball programs from the 15th and 16th Regions took turns leaving runners on base until the seventh.
Johnson Central staged a two-out uprising to win 4-1 and hand Boyd County its first loss in three games.
“It’s extremely tough to play in this type weather,” Johnson Central coach Shawn Hall said. “You just hope the guys can overcome it and perform.”
The Golden Eagles did, getting some nice defensive plays in the late innings and coming up with timely hits at the end.
“I was really happy with how we executed,” Hall said. “We have a lot of football players and wrestlers, some beefy guys and three-sport athletes. They handle weather like this pretty well.”
Boyd County left-hander Trey Johnson, working his third inning of relief, retired the first two batters in the seventh before Johnson Central came alive.
Jimmy Preston walked and moved around to third on Bo Robbins’ single. An error on Garrett LeMaster’s grounder up the middle allowed the tie-breaking run to cross the plate. Geordan Blanton’s pop fly behind first base was misplayed into a hit, and Zach Slone’s RBI single made it a three-run margin.
“We are always pleased when we come out on top, especially on the road at Boyd County,” Hall said. “They are a well-coached, solid team with a lot of tradition.”
Johnson Central has now beaten the Lions three consecutive times over two seasons. Lions coach Brandon Ramsey tipped his cap to the Hall’s team after the latest meeting.
“Johnson Central played a good game,” he said. “They made plays when they needed to, we didn’t. We had men in scoring position all night and couldn’t get them in. Johnson Central got big hits at the end.”
Overall, the Golden Eagles left 12 runners on base, one more than Boyd County. Both teams stranded at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings.
“We didn’t swing the bats,” Ramsey said. “Give credit to their pitching.”
Johnson Central’s Quade Ward, Josh Hitchcock and Robbins combined on a three-hitter. Hitchcock, a freshman, picked up the win by working 3 1-3 scoreless innings in middle relief.
“This was his first outing,” Hall said. “Josh just got finished with basketball. I think he’s going to be a special kid.”
Hitchcock came on to get the final out in the third after Boyd County scored its lone run and then loaded the bases. The Lions reached him for back-to-back singles in the fifth off the bats of Jake Cook and Matt Blakeley, but third baseman Chaynse Hill made a good play on Zack Patton’s bouncer down the line to end the threat.
Robbins pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for his second save.
Johnson Central (3-1) took a 1-0 lead in the second on Slone’s RBI single following a Boyd County error. Lions starter Dylan Grimm allowed only two singles in four innings.
Cook’s RBI groundout brought home Jordan Smith to account for the Lions’ scoring. Smith reached on an error and then stole his first of two bases on the night.
Johnson Central threatened to snap the 1-1 tie in the sixth, but Blakeley made a strong throw from right field to nail Slone trying to score from second on Juwan Mayes’ single through the right side.
“Great play by Matt,” Ramsey said.
Both teams hit the road this morning to play doubleheaders. Boyd County travels to Belfry to play the Pirates and Prestonsburg. Johnson Central heads to Lexington for games against Christian Academy of Knoxville and Lexington Christian.
J. CENTRAL 010 000 3 — 4 6 2
BOYD CO. 001 000 0 — 1 3 4
Ward, Hitchcock (3), Robbins (7) and LeMaster; Grimm, Johnson (5) and Barnwell. W—Hitchcock. L—Johnson.