PRESTONSBURG Ashland 10U plated two runs in the eighth inning, and manager Rob Lynch had two words: Holy Toledo.
“My goodness, what a game,” he blurted afterward.
Ashland survived a gutwrenching game against Lexington Eastern, 4-3, on Wednesday to advance to today’s state championship. The Ashland All-Stars will face Warren South at 6 p.m.
With the game tied 2-2 heading into a second extra frame, umpires implemented the international sudden death rules. Each team started its half of the eighth with a runner on second base.
In the top of the eighth, River Lynch executed a bunt for a single. With it, Logan Kincer moved to third. Tevin Smith singled to bring home Kincer. Connor Flowers later came through with an RBI single to right field for an insurance run. Ashland led 4-2.
In the bottom half, Lexington hit back-to-back groundouts, scoring a run in the process. With two outs, Jax Lynch, River’s cousin, hit a fly ball that outfielder Dawson Morris snagged to seal the deal.
Jax Lynch quieted Ashland’s bats for much of the game. In all, Ashland struck out 15 times. However, it capitalized on defensive miscues all while once again playing rock-solid defense behind pitchers Jace Manning and Flowers.
“We still did not hit the ball, yet we continue to prove that defense wins games,” Rob Lynch said. “The way this team is able to bounce back after a strikeout or a negative play has been impressive.”
Smith tallied two hits to lead Ashland’s offense.
Ashland’s 11U bunch piled up plenty of hits as it rocked Owensboro, 20-8, on Wednesday. Ashland is the No. 2 seed in the state semifinal round, in which it will meet either Owensboro or Prestonsburg on Friday.
Owensboro entered Wednesday’s contest with a 7-1 record in All-Star play, according to Ashland manager Don Ashby.
“We were a little concerned, but then we put five (runs) on their ace in the first inning,” Ashby said. “I don’t think there was an inning that went by where we didn’t score. … Everybody wore the ball out.”
Baker Sutton continued to contribute off the bench. According to Ashby, he went 5 for 5 in state tournament pool play.
In relief of Grant Slater, Brady Marushi pitched the rest of the game. Ashby called on him with two outs in the first.
Slater, Isaac Leeper and Jonah Arnett will all be available pitchers for Friday’s matchup.
Russell’s 12U All-Stars saw their season come to a close against Bowling Green on Wednesday. Bowling Green won, 21-1.
“It’s unfortunate the way it finished, but I know it’s not reflective of the team,” said Russell manager Chris Mokas. “This group won six games at State in three years. I’m very proud of the boys for a great run.”
Russell loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning. With Kyle Mokas, Elijah Hankins and Connor Thacker aboard, Russell recorded an RBI groundout. However, a baserunning mistake turned one out into two.
Bowling Green then ballooned the lead from 4-1 to 9-1.
“Bowling Green’s a better team; they’re deeper,” Mokas said. “They’re probably the best hitting team we’ve played all season. They all get good swings.”
Bowling Green will face Lexington for the state title tonight.
Mokas, Hayden McGuire, Jayden Erasure, Zack Brown and Avery Lother pitched for Russell.
Chris Mokas said his team “made Russell proud.”
“We just had a lot of fun, a lot of great times,” Mokas said. “We had a huge crowd there, too.”