Cougars Walk-Off in Thrilling Victory over Bardstown

After surrendering a four run lead in the top of the seventh, the Grayson County Cougar Baseball team scored two in the bottom of the eighth to defeat Bardstown Monday evening 10-9.

The Cougars got the scoring started in the bottom half of the opening inning after Briley Napier grounded a ball sharply to Tiger third baseman Cambron Stone whose throw was wide to the first baseman that allowed for Noah Bullock and Damon Simon to score the first two runs of the game. Napier came around to score on a Dain Hawkins base hit and the Cougars took a 3-0 lead.

After leading off the bottom of the second with a single, senior Ryan Johnson scored on a Damon Simon groundout and the next pitch saw Bullock score his second run of the night on a wild pitch from the Bardstown pitcher Tyler Haydon.

Cougar starting pitcher Dain Hawkins went through the first six batters of the game only allowing one hit, but the third inning was a different story. The sophomore pitcher allowed three runs on five hits and walked in a batter to shrink the Grayson County lead to 5-3.

The offense for the blue and orange continued to roll in the bottom half of the third after Hawkins reached on an error and Mason Miller used an impressive seven pitch at bat to put the first two runners on base. Both came around to score on a Caden Woodcock single and the fans at Don Lee Field saw Grayson County take a 7-3 lead.

The next 12 batters of the game were retired before Bardstown began to threaten with their bats again. After walking two batters in the top of the sixth, Hawkins struck out Stone to strand two Tiger runners in scoring position.

Entering the final inning of work with over 100 pitches, Hawkins returned to the mound to try to finish off what was a four run Cougar lead. The sophomore walked the first batter Jace Phillips and then gave up back to back singles to load the bases with nobody out. With the tying run coming to the plate, head coach Danny Clark turned to the senior submarine pitcher Noah Bullock to try to shut the door on the Tigers.

Bullock gave up a hit to catcher Gray Clark that plated two runs for Bardstown and made it a two run game. After getting the next two batters to fly out, Bullock walked one, hit a batter and walked another that tied the game up at 7. That brought up Jase Phillips for the Tigers. After taking a first pitch strike, the next pitch skipped in the dirt passed the catcher Napier and Haydon avoided a tag from Bullock which gave Bardstown their first lead of the game at 8-7.

Finding themselves with their first deficit, the Cougar bats had to find something to keep themselves from going down to what would be a devastating loss. After seeing three straight balls from Haydon, Napier was plunked in the back which put the tying run on base with no one out. Caine Smith came to the plate having hit the ball hard in his previous three at bats, but recording outs in each one. On the fifth pitch he saw from the Tigers’ senior pitcher, Smith lined one into the left-center field gap which rolled all the way to the wall. Napier scored from first and Smith slid in just ahead of the tag at third and the Cougars had the winning run 90 feet away with no one out.

Then came the strategy. Bardstown head coach Glenn Koger called for the next two batters to be intentionally walked to load the bases, opening up a force out at any base. Gavin Childress stepped to the plate with an attempt to be the hero, but grounded one to the first baseman who fired home for the force out at the plate. The next batter, Caden Woodcock, struck out on a pitch in the dirt and began to run to first as the ball skipped a foot away from the catcher. This forced the runner at third, Hawkins, to come home. The catcher Gray Clark tagged Hawkins and threw to first for an inning ending double play.

A game that once looked like an easy victory for the Cougars was headed into extra innings. Mason Miller came in to work the eighth inning in relief. Bardstown’s Will Koger, who is a University of Louisville commit, came up while already 3-4 on the night. He hit a shallow ball to right field where Woodcock attempted to make a play on the ball, but wasn’t able to, allowing the sophomore to reach base. During the next at bat, Koger stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before coming home to score on a fielder’s choice giving the Tigers the lead back at 9-8. Miller retired the final two batters of the inning.

The Cougars turned to Ryan Johnson to spark the offense in a one-run deficit. Johnson legged out an infield single before Bullock and Simon both had bunt hits that loaded the bases with no one out for the second consecutive inning.

Briley Napier was hit by a pitch for the second straight at bat that scored Johnson and tied the game up at 9 with Caine Smith coming to the plate.

After watching the first pitch go for a strike, Smith hit a hard grounder to the shortstop Koger who attempted to throw out the winning run, Bullock, at home, but his throw went wide and the winning run crossed the plate in a thrilling victory for Grayson County.

Mason Miller picked up the win in relief, throwing 1.0 IP, allowing 1H and an unearned run. Tyler Haydon was saddled with the loss as he pitched 7+ innings, giving up 9 hits, 10 runs (only four of which were earned) while walking three and hitting three batters.

Grayson County will travel to Daviess County on Tuesday evening for a 5:30pm first pitch before playing their final two games of the regular season at South Warren Thursday and at home against Hancock County on Friday.

By Sam Gormley, Play-By-Play Announcer/Local Sports
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You can watch K105 Digital Production’s broadcast of the thrilling victory at the link below: