Garrard falls in regional baseball semifinals

Published 2:15 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Garrard County’s seniors left without a regional baseball championship, but they left their mark just the same.

The Golden Lions were denied a second consecutive chance at a regional title when they lost to West Jessamine 10-3 in the semifinals of the 12th Region Tournament.

However, coach Tee Ellis said the six seniors whose careers ended with that loss Thursday at Wayne County helped the Lions begin a transition from team to program that he hopes will continue into coming seasons.

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“You get that foundation, a group that stays with you for four years, and you can do the things you want to do within your program,” Ellis said. “They bought into what we’re trying to do.”

Garrard (23-11) fell victim to a big inning in its season-ending loss. West Jessamine (29-8) scored five runs in the fourth to take a commanding lead, taking advantage of three doubles and five hits in all to go up 6-0.

“They had a lot of two-strike hits, timely hits. And they fouled off a lot of close pitches and battled to the next pitch and got a little better pitch and did something with that one,” Ellis said. “We wanted that big inning to put a little pressure on them.”

The Lions hit into double plays in each of the first two innings and left runners in scoring position in each of the final six innings, stranding nine runners in all.

They had nine hits but managed only single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings.

Brayden Poynter had two RBI singles, and Zach Stacy was on base three times and scored twice. They are among five starters who will return to the lineup next season.

“We do have a lot of talent coming back, and we’re looking forward to next year and developing in the offseason,” Ellis said. “We’ll get back after it and try to keep on building, but it’s hard with this group going out.”

The outgoing seniors won 80 games in four seasons and reached the regional tournament in each of the last two years after only two appearances in the previous 18 years.

They were eighth-graders and freshmen when Ellis took over the program in 2020, and he said they were all in for fall workouts.

“They put in the work, and that’s what it’s about. That’s what made this group so special,” he said.

Player of the Year

Merrick Graham was named the 12th Region Player of the Year by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Graham was one of four players selected to play in the KHSBCA’s East-West All-Star games June 11-12 at Centre College. He will be joined by senior Cameron Owens of Boyle County, junior Fox Spears of Danville and sophomore Wyatt Gale of Danville.