The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets wasn’t going to be denied a trip to Lexington’s Applebee’s Park. Trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Jackets scored two runs to take a 4-3 lead then added two runs in the bottom of the sixth and held on for a 6-3 win.
Senior pitcher John Reynolds got off to a fast start then struggle somewhat in the middle innings but came on strong in the final three innings, limiting the Bobcats to just one runner. He had five of his eight strikeouts in the final three innings.
“John threw the ball hard today and kept it in on them,” said Williamsburg coach Don Stricklin.
The unranked Jackets scored the first two runs against the Bobcats, who were ranked 6th in Class A and 48th among the teams in Kentucky, in the first two frames.
Lee County got a little greedy in the first inning when the Bobcats tried to send number two hitter, Nick Shurber to third on a single to leftfield by Jason Osborne. Shurber had hit a single with one out and was followed by Osborne. The Lee County pitcher hit to leftfield but Darrin Stanfill threw out Shurber trying to take third on the play. Geoffrey Witt made the easy tag for the second out. Reynolds struck out clean-up hitter, Chad Perkins to retire the side and get out of the innings without any damage.
In the home half of the inning, sophomore Aaron Root calmly led off the game with a double to right centerfield. He went to third on a sacrifice grounder by Brent Foley then scored on a sacrifice by Andy Greer.
In the bottom of the second Williamsburg came close to breaking open the game. Cody Harrell led off with a double. Reynolds tried to move Harrell to third on a bunt but Osborne went to third on the play and Perkins tagged out Harrell.
Will Moses followed with a walk to first after being hit by a pitch. Witt then moved the runners to second and third with a sac grounder. Stanfill drew a walk to load the bases.
A passed ball allowed J.T. Shelley, running for Reynolds, to score.
Lee County then got away with a big mistake when Root hit a grounder to third. Perkins made the play over to first just in time, but the first baseman, Smith was more than a couple of steps off the base. However, it got the friendly call from the field umpire that ended the inning to the displeasure of the Williamsburg fans and staff.
Reynolds worked his way out of a pitching jam in the top of the third when Thomas reached base on an error and Surber hit a single to leftfield with one out. Reynolds got Osborne to fly out to short rightfield as Moses made a run-saving catch. Perkins then grounded out to Greer at short to end the inning.
The Jackets went down in order in the bottom of the third and Reynolds was back on the mound without much rest.
Hobbs led off with a double down the leftfield line. Smith was hit by a pitch and the ‘Cats had runners at first and second with no outs. Stamper hit into a fielder’s choice that eliminated Smith at second.
The sun played havoc on Stanfill in leftfield as Todd hit the long ball to Stanfill. He lost the ball in the sun and Todd was able to get a double out of the play as Hobbs scored from third. Stamper held at third. Reynolds then struck out Combs for the second out but Thomas and Surber had back to back singles allowing Stamper and Todd to score as Lee County took a 3-2 lead. The Jackets got out of the inning when Reynolds struck out Osborne.
Williamsburg went down in order again in the bottom of the fourth but Reynolds was able to shutdown the Bobcats in the top of the fifth with strikeouts to Perks and Hobbs. Smith grounded out to Foley at second for the third out.
The quick inning might have been the spark plug Williamsburg needed. Witt led off with a single to rightfield followed by a Stanfill sacrifice. Root answered with a single past second. Witt scored on the play as Root tried to go to second, he beat the throw from Osborne but was called out.
With the bases clear, the score tied at 3-3, Foley smacked a base hit past the shortstop. He went to second after Greer was hit by a pitch and to third when Matt Jones drew a walk. With Harrell at the plate, he scored on a wild pitch to put the Jackets ahead for good.
Reynolds set the Bobcats down in order once again in the top of the sixth not allowing Osborne much rest.
Williamsburg took advantage of the situation, scoring two runs on four hits and two Lee County errors. Reynolds and Moses reached on back to back singles then scored on hits by Witt and Root. The Jackets left the bases loaded after Foley and Greer made it to first on back to back mistakes by the Bobcats.
Thomas hit into an error to lead off the top of the seventh but the Jackets settled down and got the next three batters for the win and trip to Lexington.
Williamsburg will take on #1 ranked Lexington Christian in the All “A” Elite Eight at Applebee’s Park Saturday at 5:30. The Eagles are ranked seventh statewide in the Kentucky Baseball Coaches Poll.
“They are a pretty darn good team,” said Stricklin of the Lexington Christian Eagles. “We will go up there and battle with them.”
Tournament action begins at 10 a.m. with the Campbellsville-Louisville Holy Cross winner meeting Pikeville. Second-ranked Heath will take on third-ranked Pikeville at 12:30, followed by Owensboro Catholic and 15th ranked Bishop Brossart at 3:00. Williamsburg will then try and pull the upset of Lexington Christian.
Lexington Christian beat fifth-ranked Danville in the sectional last week, 2-1.
Lee Co. 000 300 0- 3 6 2
Williamsburg 110 022 x- 6 9 5
Jason Osborne and Martin Hobbs. John Reynolds and Aaron Root. WP-Reynolds, LP-Osborne. 2B-Root (W), Harrell (W), Hobbs (LC), Todd (LC).