Owensboro Catholic crowned 9th District Champions after 9-inning battle with Apollo

May 25, 2024 | 12:05 am

Updated May 25, 2024 | 8:47 am

Owensboro Catholic and Apollo battled into extra innings for the 9th District Championship, and the Aces came out on top 7-6 to claim the title. The Eagle’s own Noah Cook was named the 2024 District Player of the Year. The All-District Team included the following players:

  • Carter Kimmel- Apollo
  • Evan Hampton- Owensboro
  • Luke Quinn- Owensboro Catholic
  • Grayson Smith- Apollo
  • Brody Brubaker- Daviess County
  • Eli Blair- Owensboro Catholic
  • Cayden Ray- Owensboro
  • Brady Atwell- Owensboro Catholic
  • Logan Mewes- Daviess County
  • Houston Flynn- Owensboro Catholic

 With the score tied at 6-6 going into the seventh, the defense of both teams had no trouble shutting the other down to take the game into extra innings. It was three up and three down for Ross Milburn in the top of the eighth as he had three straight strikeouts. OCHS responded with three quick and consecutive outs as well to move the game into a ninth inning. 

The top of the ninth began with Heistand singling on a ground ball to put things into motion. Moser hit a sacrifice bunt and was thrown out at first to get Heistand into scoring position. Blair singled on the next at-bat, but Heistand was held up at second. Houston Flynn would go on to hit the game-winning RBI as he hit a line drive out to center field to bring in Heistand. The Aces quickly shut down the Eagles in the bottom of the inning to secure the 7-6 win and claim the title.

The lead up to the dramatic finish of the district championship was that of a back-and-forth battle. It wasn’t until the second inning when the first run was scored, but both teams managed to break through as Apollo led 2-1 going into the third. Mason Moser grounded out at first to allow Barrett Evans to open scoring for Catholic, but Brock Burger singled on a line drive to right field to run in both Easton Blandford and Will Strode. 

The Aces then took the lead with a big 4-run inning in the top of the third. Evans then hit an RBI single to send White across home plate, but the fielder’s choice led to Sims being thrown out at second. After Parker Heistand was walked to put three runners on base again, Moser came up huge or OC again as he hit a fly ball to center field to allow Atwell and Evans to score and give them a 4-2 lead. Owensboro Catholic weren’t done however, as Eli Blair singled on a ground ball to left field to score Heistand before the inning came to a close. 

Aces head coach Jody Hamilton praised the team on their ability to rack up the timely hits they needed to score key runs. Moser and Heistand specifically have done well to come up with clutch hits for the team not just during this game, but in their first-round game as well, he said. 

“Offensively we had some really timely hits,” he said. “Parker Heistand and Mason Moser had two unbelievable tournaments. I think Parker was the most well-rounded player of the tournament. He may have had one out in two games. All through the lineup we had quality hits over and over again. It was a tough one, but I’m pleased.”

The Eagles continued to battle on despite the setback as Michael Chaney and Brock Burger both singled to put runners on first and second. Garrett Lanham then stepped up and sacrificed with a fly out to bring in courtesy runner Lane Skinner. With the score at 5-3, AHS pushed on with just one out. Sam Holder cut the gap to just 1 run with an RBI single to right field, scoring Burger. Catholic scored 1 more run in the fourth before Smith’s line drive ran in Burger and Lanham to tie the game at 6-6 and set up the dramatic finish. 

Eagles head coach Brandon Dennis said his team refused to back down and they did a good job of staying focused to fight their way from the deficit following Catholic’s 4-run inning. He said that situation allowed them better to prepare to do the same in regionals if they find themselves trailing. This game also highlighted Apollo’s ability at the plate. Dennis has always said that they are a pitching and defensive team first, but holding their own at the plate against a heavy-hitting team like OC gives him confidence going into next week.

“Once we fell behind, I thought we did a great job of coming back,” he said. “We had some clutch hits in some situations and played some small ball by bunting some guys around. We got big hits. We were able to practice all the things we’re going to need to be able to do next week. We just came up a little short, but for it to go that far and for us to compete and hang with them was big.”

“I mean, they swing it really really well,” he continued. “That’s typically something that we’re not going to look to do. We have the ability in tight spots to be able to do it, but we’re never going to shrink away and just try to have a slug fest with somebody. We are pitching and defense first and timely hitting. I’m proud of the way the guys competed, and I feel really good about going into next week.” 

Both teams will be playing in regionals on Monday in Breckinridge County with the draw taking place this morning. Hamilton said he feels good about going into regionals given this will be the team’s third tournament of the season after the All “A” Regionals and All “A” State.

“We’ve been tournament tested twice now,” he said. “With the All “A” Regional, then the All “A” State and now the district tournament. We just need one more good tournament.”

May 25, 2024 | 12:05 am

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