After a weekend of preparation, and driving through scattered rain showers Monday afternoon, the Pioneers arrived at East Hamilton High School to face the Hurricanes in the Regional 3AAA Tournament. The Pioneer season had come down to this game -- win and play on, lose and go home.
The Pioneers kept pace with the Hurricanes until midway through the fourth inning and that’s when they entered the eye of the storm, but it was far from calm. The game was tied at 1-1 when the Hurricanes put together a four-run inning and broke the game open. Warren County never recovered and the Pioneers were defeated, 10-1.
Will Sweeton got the start for Warren County on the hill and he lasted until the bottom of the fifth. Sweeton allowed seven runs off 11 hits, and had two strikeouts. After giving up seven runs, Pioneer coach Adam Childs made the switch to freshman Tyler Prater to close the game. Prater allowed three runs off two hits and had one strikeout in his two innings of work.
The Pioneers left their bats behind and they had a very dismal day at the plate. They mustered only four hits in seven innings and drew three walks. All but three Pioneers struck out at various times in the 3AAA Regional game, not their best effort in the batter’s box.
The Pioneers started with a less-than-stellar at-bat in the top of the first. Taisei Yasunaga drew a walk which was the innings highlight which brought Chayse Frye to the plate. Yasunaga, at first base got the green light to advance but was gunned down for out one. Frye made contact with a solid hit that stayed in the air too long and it was caught in center field for out two. With two down and no one on, Lucas Rogers hit a slow roller back to the pitcher for the final out.
The Hurricanes led off the bottom of the first with a hard hit ground ball to Rogers at second base for out one. The next batter up for East Hamilton blasted a shot to center field for a single followed by another shot to center field for runners at the corners with one out. Before the next batter could make contact the runner at first advanced to second with no attempt to stop him with a runner on third base.
The following batter for East Hamilton batter sent a long fly ball to right field and the runner at third tagged-up for the first run of the game. The following batter hit the ball sharply to third base where Elkins recorded out three to end the Hurricanes momentum.
In the top of the second, Isaac Golden went down swinging to lead off the second with out number one. Jett Urtubees reached on an error after he hit a line-drive to second base that could not be handled. Colby Elkins sent the ball high and deep to center field for out number two and that brought Tristan Reish to the plate. Urtubees got the signal to go, and he did to no avail and the Hurricanes picked off another Pioneer.
In the bottom of the second, Warren County seemed to have things under control and the game had settled into a rhythm. First batter up for the Hurricanes singled off a hot line-drive to Yasunaga who could not find the handle. On an attempt to steal second, Warren County returned the favor and gunned down the East Hamilton runner for the first out of the inning. The second and third out came on a ground ball to the pitcher, followed by a second ground ball to third base to end the inning and the score remained 1-0 after two complete.
In the top of the third, Reish came back to the plate to finish what he started, but he grounded out to third base for the first of three outs. Nick Williamson stepped to the plate and with two strikes Williams watched strike number three cross the plate for out number two. Jordan Tidwell blasted a shot to second base for the final out and the side was retired in order.
The bottom of the third inning the Lead-off batter for the Hurricanes was hit by a pitch and took first base. He advanced to second base off a sacrifice-bunt for out one. A ground ball to first base sent the runner over to third with two outs. Warren County dodged a bullet when the Hurrcanes hit a ground ball to third base for the third out of the inning.
Warren County was back to the top of the lineup in the top of the fourth inning but Yasunaga was called out on strikes for the first out. Frye drew a walk to reach first base with only one out. Rogers went down swinging for out two. Golden stepped into the batter’s box and smacked a double to deep left-center field and the Hurricane throw to third sailed over and into the dugout which allowed Frye to score and the game was tied at 1-1. With Golden on second, Urtubees grounded out to the pitcher for the final out, but the game was tied and the Pioneers had new life heading into the bottom of the fourth.
The momentum was short lived and the Hurricanes gained strength in the bottom of the fourth. The storm was about to intensify and it started with a base hit to left field followed by a line-drive to center field. With two runners on already on first and second. The third batter faced in the inning was hit by Sweeton to load the bases and the Hurricanes had no outs. The next batter up for the Hurricanes went down on strikes for the first out with bases still loaded. A single to left field scored the runner from third base and left the bases loaded as the storm continued to brew with the score 2-1. A single to deep center field brought two runs across the plate this time and the Hurricanes went up 4-1. Now with runners at first and third, Sweeton was in a jam and the runner at first base advanced to second before another base hit by East Hamilton scored another run and the Hurricanes took a 5-1 lead. The Pioneers defense was able to pick up back-to-back outs to end the inning but not before the Hurricanes added to the lead.
In the top of the fifth Warren County led off the inning with a base hit from Elkins. Reish went down swinging for out one. Williamson drew a walk and there was a Pioneer runner at first and second base. Tidwell singled to third base and Williamson was out at second on a fielder’s-choice for the second out. Elkins was at third base when Yasunaga hit a ground ball to first base and cut Warren County’s inning short.
The Hurricanes momentum picked up for the second straight inning in the bottom of the fifth. Three straight singles to left, center, and right field scored another two runs for a 7-1 Hurricane lead. Midway through the fifth and runs were still crossing the plate Sweeton was done. Coach Childs called up Tyler Prater for Warren County to see if he could calm the storm. A pop-up to third base caught by Yasunga for the first out was dropped on the transfer as he attempted to pull the ball from his glove. It prompted the runner at third base to take off for home, but he was thrown out for the second out. After a wild pitch the third out was recorded and the Hurricanes were still on the move with a 7-1 lead.
Warren County was in the heart of the lineup in the top of the sixth and Frye hit a lead-off single to right field. Rogers hit a shallow fly ball for the first out and Frye held at first. Golden sent a shot right back to right field for a base hit and Frye moved down to second base. Urtubees stepped in and stepped right back out with a strikeout for out two. With runners on first and second base, Elkins hit a line-drive right back to the pitcher for the final out and the inning was over and the Hurricane 7-1 lead was still intact.
Still gaining strength, the Hurricanes continued to swirl around the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a lead-off strikeout, the following batter was hit by a pitch from Prater. The next hit went into left center field and was dropped and the Hurricanes were on the move again. Two more singles scored two more runs and the Hurricanes lead grew to 9-1. One final single to left field brought in East Hamilton’s final run and the score was 10-1 just before the second and third out was made.
Warren County was down to its last three outs and trailed by nine runs. A late-game rally of this magnitude would require some divine intervention. Unfortunately the Pioneers felt the pressure and the side was retired in order. A ground ball to second base, a fly-ball to right and a fly-ball to left field ended the chances of Warren County moving on to the next round of the tournament.
The Pioneers weathered the Hurricanes offense for three and half innings before the intensity picked up enough to put them into the next category and the Hurricanes continued to gain strength to defeat the Pioneers by a final score of 10-1.