2A tourney win, first loss help Boyle prepare for postseason

Published 3:45 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

The Boyle County baseball team went from checking off one of its goals to a reality check in just 24 hours.

One night after winning an important tournament, the Rebels used their first loss of the season to prepare for an even more important one.

Boyle won the Kentucky 2A Championships Section 5 tournament for the first time with victories on consecutive nights, then fell to Anderson County 4-2 on Wednesday night to end a season-opening eight-game winning streak.

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It was the Rebels’ third close game in as many nights, and coach Adam Blair noted that it’s the same sort of gauntlet they will have to run to win the 12th Region Tournament later this spring.

“We told them to take this night as preparation for the regional tournament,” Blair said. “We won two real emotional, mentally draining games Monday and Tuesday (when) they were really locked in. To win region you have to win three nights in a row, so we just told them, ‘It’s been a hard two nights, and you’ve got to fight through one more time to win region, so let’s go and prepare for that.’”

Boyle (8-1) might have won all three of these games if a ground ball to third base that resulted in the final out against Anderson (9-1) had been a foot or two to the left. Instead, the game ended with the tying run on base.

The Rebels trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the seventh and got one run across before the game ended.

“We gave ourselves a chance, and hopefully if that happens again and we get another shot that ball’s a few feet over,” Blair said. “But it’s good for us to be put in tough situations. We’ve played in close games all year and won most of them, and this time we just fell a little short.”

Timely hits were hard to come by for the Rebels, who got only four hits prior to the seventh inning against Anderson starter Logan Grubb, a Kentucky signee ranked as one of the top players in the state, and reliever Bradley Johnson.

Pitchers Josh Cool and Jacob Kenney kept Boyle in the game before the Bearcats added two insurance runs in the sixth inning.

Blair said pitching and defense have served the Rebels well early in the season as they have won five games by one or two runs.

“Overall we’ve just been playing really good defense and getting good pitching,” he said. “Like (Tuesday) night we had zero walks with six K’s and when guys are in scoring position we’ve really been buckling down and not letting it get to us.

“Our defense and our pitchers have been just staying relaxed and comfortable and getting out of innings. And then when our guys come in to hit it carries over. We’ve been hitting the ball good and our guys have been getting on base and stealing.”

Boyle played Rockcastle County on Friday night and will host an Indiana school Monday before traveling to Tennessee for a spring break tournament later next week.

The Rebels defeated Bourbon County 5-4 on Monday and Harrison County 6-4 on Tuesday at Western Hills to win the 2A sectional for the first time after finishing as runner-up for the past three seasons.

The Rebels will play in the statewide 2A tournament April 19-20 in Owensboro.

“It was a big goal of ours to win that and get the opportunity to go to the state tournament,” Blair said.

And it will be another big opportunity for the Rebels to prepare for the postseason by playing quality opponents.

“You know, you can win all these games, which we want to do,” Blair said, “but if you win the last game, that’s what everybody wants to do and that’s the only thing anybody remembers.”