Brandon Hennessee was ready to be the hero. The only problem was he never got the chance. He only needed to show restraint.
Hennessee’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh proved to be the difference for Warren County, as the Pioneers defeated White County 6-5 in the first game of a best-of-three series in the District 6AAA tournament.
“I really didn’t get a pitch to hit, but a walk got the job done too,” said Hennessee, whose patience helped the Pioneers survive after coughing up a 5-1 lead against the Warriors.
White County rallied to tie late, scoring two runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh to knot the score. The Pioneers answered with Hennessee’s walk, coming after some clutch at-bats.
Sophomore Trace Adcock led off the inning and reached by using his head – literally. Adcock took a two-strike pitch of the bill of his helmet, putting the lead-off runner aboard.
Wesley Jennings followed with a sacrifice bunt, while Cole Estes had to fight off two potential third strikes before looping a single into right field.
Rounding back to the top of the order, White County decided to intentionally walk speedy lead-off Ethan Smith to load the bases for force outs at any bag.
The strategy backfired when another free pass was issued to Hennessee, but there was nowhere to put him.
The victory wasn’t followed by a celebration. It was more a sigh of relief for the Pioneers, who looked in control early but let White County back in with some uncharacteristic mistakes.
“I don’t think we played well, or at least as well as we could have,” said coach Trice Powers, now one win away from the region in his first season at the helm. “Getting Trace on base was huge. He’s not had a lot of at-bats, but when he’s been in there he’s had quality at-bats.
“I had confidence in the guys that they would come through. We’ve been good in the past few weeks and doing what we’re supposed to do. I think we can take a positive out of this win that we got the win without being at our best.”
A two-run single from Jennings and a RBI double from Hennessee highlighted a five-run first for the Pioneers, who entered the sixth inning leading 5-2.
A costly error in the sixth helped White County plate one run, while a two-out single by Tucker Allen made it 5-4. Reliever Brooks Helton got out of the sixth by forcing a bases-loaded fly ball, but the Warriors wouldn’t quit.
Another error plagued the Pioneers in the seventh, allowing lead-off Jason Maxwell to reach. Maxwell would ultimately score on a two-out single from Macon Girdley, who chopped a slow roller down the third-base line that three Pioneers couldn’t reach fast enough.
The Pioneers were able to regroup though, with Hennessee’s walk getting the Pioneers one win away from the district championship game.
Warren County and White County met Tuesday, with the game results not available at press time. Check the Standard Facebook page for more details on the district tournament schedule.