LEXINGTON The Whitaker Bank Ballpark scoreboard was off by a run.
Didn’t help Paintsville.
The 15th Region champion Tigers fell to Ninth Region winner Highlands, 5-0, and not the scoreboard’s six, in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Paintsville finished at 26-13, which didn’t keep senior Ben Daniels tear-free.
“Finally getting here after a long five years,” said Daniels, who had one of the Tigers’ two singles off Highlands’ Hunter Dreves. “ … We ran into a better team; they’re pretty good.”
Two things cost Paintsville Saturday: two baserunning blunders; and Dreves, who struck out eight.
“(Dreves) is going to Tennessee for a reason,” Daniels said. “Man, he just had speed; off-speed was good — stuff we don’t see around (Paintsville). It’s tough to hit when you see it once a month, I guess.”
Indeed, Dreves had some heat. His fastball frequently reached 88 mph, and his off-speed was in the low-80s.
“I hit most of my spots,” Dreves said. “The strike zone, the umpire mainly called low. I was throwing low; that was the best.”
And if facing Dreves and committing two errors weren’t enough, the roster Paintsville coach Walt Crace turned in was wrong.
Crace didn’t discover the mistake until the fourth inning, when he brought in Matt Combs to relieve starter Tanner Smith. The problem: Combs wasn’t on the roster, so he was ineligible, which forced Crace to bring in Ryan Moore instead.
“That was my mistake,” Crace said. “(The Kentucky High School Athletic Association) lets you have 21, we had 23. I thought (Combs) was on the roster. It was my mistake, it was on me.”
You could also make a case for the shaky baserunning being the costliest miscues.
In the second inning, Ryan Gibson walked, stole second and went to third on Matt Baldwin’s single. But instead of staying on third after Jonathon McKenzie grounded out, Bluebird first baseman Tyler Gulley easily threw Gibson out at home.
Two frames later, Daniels singled and went to third on Dreves’ errant pickoff attempt. A pair of batters later, Highlands shortstop Ethan Kavanagh threw out Daniels at the plate.
“Young kids just trying to be aggressive, trying to make something happen,” Crace said.
Highlands (28-13), meanwhile, took a 3-0 second-inning lead on a Paintsville error — Smith’s wayward throw to first. By the time they were done, the Bluebirds had batted around.
The Bluebirds finished the scoring with two