ASHLAND Frank Conley asked Jake Vanover for five solid innings as Boyd County opened the 16th Region Tournament against Fleming County Saturday evening as Ashland Alumni Field.
The right-hander gave his skipper everything and more that was asked.
Vanover worked five innings of one-hit baseball while striking out 12 to lead Boyd County to the regional semifinals Monday night with a 3-0 shutout of Fleming County.
“He pitched really well,” Conley said. “I told him going into it, give me five good innings and I’ll take it and he did just that.”
Fleming County’s lone hit came with a leadoff single by Jayden Argo to open the second, but Vanover fanned two more after striking out the side to start the game to quite the Panthers threat. Vanover fanned the side three times in the contest including in his final inning of work on only 13 pitches, making the decision to lift him a difficult one for Conley.
“It was a hard decision to take him out after watching what all took place today when it seemed like guys held on a little too long, so I thought we would get Jake (Biggs) in there and get Vanover out on a good note.”
Biggs picked up where Vanover left off, striking out five of the six batters he faced after retiring his first hitter on a fly ball to center.
Both teams found themselves in a pitching duel with neither team denting the scoreboard until the Lions took advantage of a Panthers miscue in the fourth to send Biggs to the plate for a 1-0 lead. Boyd added two more in the fifth, but the lone run would have been enough to secure the win.
“I thought if we got one, we had a pretty good shot and once we got two, I felt pretty good about things,” Conley said.
Fleming County starter Larkin McKee worked 5 1/3 innings before handing the ball off to Argo for relief. He allowed only two hits, three runs—all unearned—while striking out six.
“The kid pitched his tail off,” Conley said of McKee. “He worked us over and was good. He was better than advertised. He was pretty tough.”
Fleming County skipper Austin Hart said the performance by McKee was nothing out of the norm.
“Larkin has thrown well all year and kept us in every ball game, but when you have 17 strikeouts, it’s not going to happen,” Hart said. “Jayden gets a hit there in the second and we have him at second with no outs and you don’t score. That kind of deflates you a little bit.”
Prior to the game, both teams observed a moment of silence to honor the late Buddy Morgan who passed away from a vehicle accident nearly a month ago. Every umpire who worked the event showed their support as well, donning a black wristband in honor of Morgan.
“Four weeks ago, Fleming County changed a little bit when Hoss and Buddy had their wreck,” Hart said. “Two weeks ago, it really changed when Buddy passed away. But what it did was really bring the community together. The whole community has just gotten together and it’s just been an amazing site.”
FLEMING CO. 000 000 0 — 0 1 4
BOYD CO. 000 120 X — 3 2 0
Larkin and Clark; Vanover, Biggs (6) and Lusby. W—Vanover. L—McKee.