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Shelby County’s 10- and 12-year-old all-star teams each played into the finals of their Cal Ripken State Tournaments but couldn’t quite pull out the titles.
The 10-year-old all-stars lost to Scott County, 17-7, Monday night at Georgetown.
“They battled back,” Coach Ron Leazier said. “I’m so tickled to be state runner-up. We fought hard. The fans were behind us. It was exciting baseball.”
After losing their first game to Lake Cumberland in Georgetown, the 10-year-olds won four consecutive games to earn a bid for the state championship.
They defeated Grant County, 16-0, Johnson County, 9-7, South Lexington, 11-9, and Mount Sterling, 11-7.
“The kids were so pumped up and so excited. They were a totally different team,” Leazier said. “They pulled together.
“Defensively, we were outstanding. We started hitting the ball. We had the momentum going for us and we ran as far as we could with it.
“It was a team effort. Evan Ruff -- he was our workhorse. He was throwing strikes.”
Leazier also noted starting pitchers Zane Baker, Ron Leazier and Bobby Crisp for the way they kept Shelby in games.
12-year-olds lose heartbreaker
Shelby County was taken down twice by host South Lexington in the 12-year-old state tournament, falling, 6-3, in the championship game on Sunday afternoon.
The first time they met was in the finals of the winners bracket, and Shelby lost, 3-2.
“We lost in the bottom of the sixth,” Coach Scott Corn said. “We had a few real tough calls, honestly. But that proved right there we could play with them.”
That loss pit Shelby and North Lexington in the final game of the losers’ bracket, and Shelby rolled to an 11-4 victory.
“Matthew Roberts pitched outstanding,” Corn said. “Will McDonald had a home run.”
Corn said Roberts, McDonald and Grant Clarkson – on the mound as well as at shortstop – led a stellar defense that committed just four errors in five games.
In the championship game, Chase Likes hit a solo home run to put Shelby on the board after it trailed, 3-0. But Scott kept tagging on runs until Shelby rallied in the sixth.
“We had the go-ahead run at the plate, and we just didn’t get it done,” Corn said. “Will McDonald pitched a great game. I was very proud of them.
“State runner-up is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t happen every day. We played hard. All the kids contributed.”
The 12-year-olds will wrap up their all-star season with a tournament in Elizabethtown this weekend.
Scott halts 9-year-olds
After a first-round victory against Jackson County, the 9-year-old all-stars lose control of tight games late and fall to Boone County, 11-2, and Scott County, 7-3, at Clear Creek Park.
“Both teams piled on runs in the sixth inning,” Coach Josh Collins said. “We just didn’t score enough runs. Our defense was good. Our pitching was good.”
In the second-round loss to Boone County, brothers Marcus and Caleb Collins shared the pitching duties. Tait Cox and Matthew Ellis led the offense.
“We saw some good pitching,” Collins said. “It was 4-2 late in the ball game, and then they tagged on seven runs.”
Against Scott County, Shelby was leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the fifth. Kyion Stone was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs batted in.
“I knew we were evenly matched,” Collins said. “They took the lead in the bottom of the fifth and we couldn’t get anything going. Ellis pitched a great ball game.”
The 9-year-olds will play a few more tournaments before wrapping up the all-star season.
“We didn’t fair as well as we’d hoped,” Collins said of the state tournament. “All our young men had a great time.”
11-year-olds out in semifinals
The 11-year-old all-stars were knocked out by Northern Lexington, 17-2, in the losers' bracket final, the same team that had bean them, 15-11, in the first round.
After the opening loss, Shelby came back and beat Paris, 13-3, and Berea, 15-9.
“We got a great effort from all our players,” Assistant Coach Robert Marshall, Jr. said. “The whole team hit the ball well. Tre Axline did a great job catching. He caught in 100-degree heat four days in-a-row. I think we just ran out of gas.”