Boyle wins second straight district baseball title

By MIKE MARSEE

Contributing Writer

LANCASTER — The hottest offense in the 12th Region is only getting hotter.

The Boyle County baseball team has been scoring runs in bunches in the second half of the season, and the Rebels kept up that pace as they rolled to their second consecutive 45th District Tournament championship.

They used 15 hits and two big innings Wednesday to defeat Garrard County 14-7 in the district final at Garrard Middle School.

“We’ve picked it up tremendously since the start of the season,” Boyle shortstop Cameron Owens said. “We’re now scoring 10-plus runs every game. We’re feeling very confident that if we’ve got the pitching on there’s a great chance we’re going to come out on top.”

It doesn’t actually happen every night, but Boyle (23-9) has reached double figures in runs in its last three games and in eight of its last 13 games. Since April 11, the Rebels have scored 10 or more 12 times in 23 games, including seven times in eight games against 45th District opponents.

“I guess it’s just getting in the cage, a lot more practice,” Owens said. “Early in the season we were rusty … so just getting back into it, getting going, realizing who we are and just come out swinging.”

Boyle leads the 12th Region in batting average (.326), hits (292) and runs (266). Its team batting average has increased by 25 points over the last 13 games, and the Rebels’ confidence is also on the rise thanks to the increase in offensive output.

“We have a great pitching staff, but hitting seems to be carrying us right now, to be honest,” Owens said.

Owens was named the tournament’s most valuable player after going 5 for 5 at the plate Wednesday with a home run, a double and three RBIs and scoring six runs in two tournament games.

Brayson Claunch hit his first two home runs of the season, including a three-run homer to left field that was the big blow in a seven-run first inning for visiting Boyle, and added a double.

The first three batters and six Rebels in all had hits in the first inning, though all seven runs were unearned thanks to two Garrard errors,

“We started off real hot in the first inning, but I knew that it wasn’t over,” Boyle coach Adam Blair said. “They compete their tails off. They’re a hard team to win against, and I have all the respect in the world for those guys.”

Garrard (23-12) battled back with three runs in the second inning and three more in the third. It was 8-6 before Boyle put the game out of reach in the fifth inning with six runs on four hits, including a three-run homer by Owens.

“This is what it’s all about, all the workouts, all the lifts, all the training we do in the offseason. This moment right here, smiling and being able to walk out with the championship trophy, that’s why we do it,” Blair said.

Cole Sims and Brayden West had two hits each for Boyle, while Jaydon Noe had three hits and Caden Neff and Mason Reynolds had two each for Garrard.

Garrard advanced to the title game and earned its first regional tournament berth since 2015 with a 5-0, eight-inning victory over Danville. Pitcher Merrick Graham allowed only two hits and one walk and struck out 14 batters in a complete-game win, while Danville’s Sam Matherly allowed one hit and struck out 11 in 6 2/3 innings before reaching 120 pitches, the maximum allowed in a single day.

Boyle defeated Lincoln County 10-5 to reach the finals. The Rebels will host a first-round game in the regional, which is expected to begin Tuesday; Mercer County will host the semifinals and finals.

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