Battle of the OC’s: Owensboro Catholic tops Ohio County for first 3rd Region championship since 2005

June 8, 2021 | 12:03 am

Updated June 8, 2021 | 12:25 am

Gage Johnson | Owensboro Times

Owensboro Catholic’s offense put on a show against Ohio County, helping them to an 11-4 win and the Third Region Baseball Tournament championship, the program’s first since 2005.

It was Owensboro Catholic who put its foot on the gas right out of the gate, snagging one in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. But it was the second inning that really set the tone.

Hunter Small found his way to first and moved to second base after a passed ball, later being joined by J Crabtree and Jamison Wall via hit by pitch.

Sam McFarland took advantage, doubling to make it a 3-0 game. Scales followed with a double of his own shortly after, giving the Aces a 5-0 lead going into the third. After a scoreless third inning, Ohio County showed signs of life.

After the leadoff hitter was walked, Luke Evans missed Braden Mundy’s pick-off attempt at first, allowing the runner to get all the way to third.

A walk put a runner on, but another failed pick-off attempt led to one crossing the plate for the Eagles.

They took advantage of the newfound momentum, getting a single from Jacob Gregory with another walk from Munsey juicing the bases for Ohio County with no outs.

Jaylen Walker was walked to make it a 5-2 game, but Munsey bounced back with a strikeout to get the first out of the inning.

However, a passed ball made it a 5-3 game. A sacrifice fly from Brandon Davis cut the Eagles’ deficit to 5-4 and Walker tried to make it to third but was gunned down by Mundy to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Catholic wasn’t done rattling the bats, grabbing one in the bottom of the fifth with a solo shot from Scales to take a 6-4 lead.

After Small continued to hold Ohio County scoreless for the second-straight inning, the Aces really broke it open in the bottom of the sixth.

Going bit by bit with only one extra-base hit in the inning, Catholic snagged five runs to take an 11-4 lead going into the seventh.

This was more than enough with Small on the mound, who pounded the strike zone all night knowing that all he needed was one pitch to get the job done.

“I knew they couldn’t catch up to my fastball,” Small said. “I think I threw one curveball the whole game. It went over his head and after that I just said ‘call fastballs.’ I don’t think they actually barreled or got their bat around on a ball all night.”

Small finished his three innings on the bump allowing no hits, walking only one batter and striking out four.

A number of Aces got in on the action offensively, with McFarland, Evans, Braden Mundy and Scales all registered multiple hits.

Scales led the way with three hits and four RBIs, while Finley Munsey and McFarland both had two hits and three RBIs.

Scales was awarded the 3rd Region Player of the Year following the game, and assistant coach Mitchell Sims said that Scales deserves it. 

However, it’s not the home runs, the fielding displays and the baserunning that makes the difference—it’s the leadership that Scales and a number of his teammates show that makes the Aces roster so special.

“Scales is a beast,” Sims said. “He puts the team on his back. We have several [players] like that on our team. For a team to be fortunate enough to have multiple threats like that that are consistent [is great]. That’s the thing about those guys. They do it every night and when they don’t, they’re picking other guys up. It’s a true leadership thing.”

Amidst all the celebrations, one could find head coach Derek Hibbs’ son running around with the players before being hoisted up with the championship trophy.

Hibbs was unable to be at the game after being ejected from the game against Hancock County. Sims said that while it kills Hibbs to not be there, it’s great to watch his son be lifted up by the players and wear his dad’s jersey on the field.

“It’s amazing,” Sims said. “Hibbs is a good friend of mine. He was the pitching coach when I was the head coach, so we’ve had a good relationship all along. I got out of it because I had a young son starting to play, but one of them was reaching high school level so Hibbs asked that I come back and coach freshman… It’s a good group of guys and it’s a pleasure coaching with them.”

With the 3rd Region championship under their belt, Catholic now looks to its semi-state matchup, in which they will take on Lyon County on Saturday at Western Kentucky.

June 8, 2021 | 12:03 am

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