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The last time the Collins and Shelby County baseball teams met – a little more than 11 months ago – it was an instant classic.
The Rockets topped the Titans, 10-8, in 11 innings in the 30th District Tournament semifinals last year at Collins. It not only was Shelby County’s first victory over its new rival, which had routed the Rockets by a combined score of 39-8 in the first three meetings since the school “split” in 2010, but it also ended the Titans’ season.
The stakes aren’t quite as high tonight, when Shelby County hosts Collins at 7:30 at the Shelby County Athletic Complex, but they are still significant. In addition to bragging rights, the winner of tonight’s crosstown showdown will be seeded No. 1 in the 30th District Tournament, and the loser will be No. 2.
The Titans have won the first two regular-season meetings in convincing fashion, 15-3 in 2011 and 9-2 in 2012. They also routed the Rockets, 15-3, in the 30th District Tournament in 2011 before Shelby County flipped the script last year.
This time figures to be more like the latter than the former. Both teams appear, on paper at least, to be pretty even.
Collins (24-4, 2-0), which comes in ranked seventh in the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 25 and 12th in Kentucky’s Prep Baseball Report poll, enters averaging 7.3 runs per game and allowing 3. The Titans are batting .332 (led by senior Nate Clifton’s .415 average) and their pitching staff – led by seniors Austin Perry (7-2, 2.58 earned-run average) and Dan Sanders (7-0, 1.79 ERA) – has a collective 2.38 ERA, with 231 strikeouts in 182.1 innings. They also have a .954 fielding percentage.
Shelby County (22-7-1, 2-0), which is rated 19th and 23rd, respectively, in the KHSBCA and PBR polls, comes in averaging 8 runs per game and allowing 3.2. The Rockets are batting .314 (senior Kam Bruner leads with a .427 average) and their pitching staff – led by junior Dillon Boone (7-0 with one save, 1.27 ERA) – has a 2.52 ERA with 161 strikeouts in 188.2 innings. They also have a collective fielding percentage of .942.
Given their statistics, and success so far this season, Collins and Shelby County may be more than just the top two teams in the district, they may be the top two teams in the 8th Region.
So even though tonight’s game will decide the Nos. 1 and 2 seedings in the district tournament, it may not be the most decisive game these two play this season. They’ll probably meet again in the 30th District final, and they very well could face off in the 8th Region Tournament championship game.