By Mike Fields
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For Bishop Brossart, eight wasn’t enough.
The Mustangs got eight scoreless innings from senior pitcher Jesse Orth against Woodford County in the semifinals of the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament on Friday night.
But the sky fell in on Brossart in the ninth when Woodford County pushed across six unearned runs off reliever Conner Verst and beat the Mustangs 6-0 in front of 4,192 fans in Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
“It would’ve been better if we made it to the finals,” Orth said. “But we gave it our all, and I couldn’t ask for better teammates.”
While Orth was keeping Woodford County off-kilter with 62-mph off-speed junk, Jackets’ ace righty Clinton Hollon was blowing 92-mph smoke past the Mustangs.
Hollon, rated the top junior pitcher in the nation by ESPN, gave up four hits, no walks and struck out 11.
“Obviously, he’s the best pitcher we’ve seen this year.” Brossart Coach Ron Verst said. “But we battled him.”
The Mustangs got a lead-off double by Tanner Norton in the second, but Hollow struck out the next three batters. Brossart got a runner to third with two outs in the eight and had Zach Fardo at the plate.
“What guy would you rather have up than him?” Ron Verst said.
But Hollon K’d him, too.
Yellowjackets Coach Jeff Parrett said he was “glad we had Clinton Hollon on the mound, because (Orth) was throwing a gem.”
But Hollon’s night was done after the eighth. High school rules limit a pitcher to 15 innings in a week. Hollon went seven innings in the first-round win over Powell County. The eight against the Mustangs gave him 15 total.
The Jackets made that a moot point by scoring a half-dozen times in the ninth off Brossart reliever Conner Vest.
Justin Brown started the Woodford rally with a single, Gage Beavers reached on a fielder’s choice, and Rodney Gross walked to load the bases. Logan Parrett’s slow grounder to third was mishandled, and Brown scored the first run of the night.
Eli Boggess followed with a double to the right-center field gap, driving in three runs. The floodgates were open and Brossart couldn’t get them closed.
Woodford County, making its first state tournament appearance, notched its 14th victory in a row and earned a spot in Saturday night’s championship game.
Brossart closed out a memorable spring in which it made its first-ever trip to the state tournament.
“We’ve got nothing to hang our heads about,” Ron Verst said. “We accomplished more this season than any previous team in our school history.”
WOODFORD 000-000-006—6 12 1
BROSSART 000-000-000—0 4 4
WP: Hollon (4-0). LP: C. Verst (4-4). HITTING LEADERS: WC—Boggess 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Ares 2-4; Stepp 2-5; Brown 2-5. B—Norton 2B. RECORDS: Woodford County 33-6, Brossart 27-13.
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