The Franklin-Simpson Wildcats baseball team finished as the 13th District Tournament runner-up but their season will continue as they will be one of eight teams competing in the 4th Region Baseball Tournament that started this past Monday.
Wildcats 17 Panthers 0 (3 innings)
Franklin-Simpson advanced to the 13th District Baseball Tournament Championship game with its win over the Russellville Panthers.
Sophomore John West, the winning pitcher, allowed one hit and struck out six.
“I was feeling good just like in my last start,” he said. “I concentrated on throwing strikes, locating my fastball and let my defense do the work. Gave up a hit on my very first pitch, but I didn’t let it get to me. Tonight at the plate, they weren’t throwing it very hard, so I waited on the fastball and hit those and got a couple of RBIs.”
The Wildcats sent 17 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning and scored 11 runs, highlighted by junior Connor Vincent’s grand slam to left field for a 5-0 lead. He also added a two-run double later for a total of six RBIs in the inning.
“Before the game, the coaches all said that we would like everyone to see the first pitch and then go on from there,” Vincent said. “I saw the first pitch and saw his speed. The next one I saw drop in the dirt. Next pitch I saw, I just let it go and it was gone. I felt like it could go because it felt good coming off the bat.”
Also, senior Justin Jones added a two-run double, returning senior Cole Wix had an RBI double. Senior Chase Wilson and West each had run-scoring singles.
Franklin-Simpson plated six more runs in the bottom of the second. West hit a two-run double with Wilson drove in a run with a double. Senior Ben Banton and freshman Griff Banton each had an RBI single, plus they also scored a run on an error for 17 runs in two innings at the plate.
13th District Tournament Championship
Cougars 7 Wildcats 6
Franklin-Simpson rallied twice, once to take the lead, but the second surge came up one run short with a runner stranded at third base as the Wildcats could not win their third straight 13th District Tournament championship.
The Wildcats trailed 2-0 after a two-run home run in the top of the first and an RBI double made the score 3-0 after the third.
Franklin-Simpson broke through in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Connor Vincent scored from second on Griff Banton’s RBI single to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Wildcats took the lead with only one hit in the bottom of the fifth. Chase Wilson led off the inning by being hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a double by Cole Wix. Justin Jones was also hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases. Wilson then scored on a sacrifice fly that made the score 3-2. Franklin-Simpson then forced three consecutive walks that scored sophomore Hayden Satterly, courtesy runner for Wix, and Jones that gave them a 4-3 lead. With the bases loaded, a balk was called on Logan County that scored senior Padon Vaughn that made the score 5-3.
However, the lead would be short lived as the Cougars took the advantage back with three runs in the top of the sixth and added a run in the top of the seventh, making the score 7-5.
The Wildcats rallied one more time in their final at-bat. Senior Luke Richardson hit a leadoff single and went to second with a walk to Vincent. Richardson advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on a sacrifice fly by John West, and the Wildcats trailed 7-6. Griff Banton hit a two-out single that moved Vincent to third, but he was stranded as the game ended on a groundout.
“A lot of adversity in this game,” Cougars coach Ethan Meguiar said. “We are playing with a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and I am just proud of them for the way they held up in this game. Maybe they’re too young and dumb to figure out, but they just kept playing and we won a bunch of games like that down the stretch. Tonight was not perfect. We made some errors, hit some guys, walked some guys, but it’s the way we handled the failures and mistakes and that was the difference in the game.”
Griff Banton and John West each had two RBIs, Cole Wix had three hits and six players each scored a run.