Campbell County came up a pitcher’s duel short of making it to state.
In as well-pitched a game as one is going to find – and the emphasis is indeed on “one,” as in “one” run in the number “one” inning — Campbell County got beat in a heartbreaker, 1-0, early Wednesday evening by Harrison County, which now heads to state to face the winner of the Ninth Region.
The victory at Scott High School went to Harrison County’s Jordan Martin, who scattered five hits and struck out five and drove in the winning run with a single in that fateful first.
The loss went to Tyler Walsh, who pitched just as well as Martin, but Walsh and his team couldn’t scratch a run across, despite having a a shot at in their own first inning, and twice having runners picked off first to kill rallies in the fourth and fifth innings.
“The key probably was that first inning,” said Campbell coach Scott Schweitzer. “Jump on a guy early, get some runs, get a cushion, you feel good. Gives your four sophomores on the field a nice opportunity to settle in.”
But it didn’t happen.
Walsh is headed for Kentucky Wesleyan, and Martin for Wabash Junior College, where both have bright futures judging by Wednesday’s performances.
“It’s tough throwing the ball by their guys,” said Martin, who normally records more strikeouts. “It was our defense that won this game today, it wasn’t me. Our right fielder ran down a ball, our center fielder ran down a ball, our shortstop’s an eighth grader, and he makes all the plays.”
The Campbell Countians hit a couple balls right on the button in the final inning, but all they had to show for it was a deep flyout to right and a scorched line-drive out to center. Both teams played crisply in the field, all game long, on one of the sharpest, best-groomed fields in Northern Kentucky.
Campbell looked as though it might break out in the first inning, as Walsh singled up the middle and Paul Griffis bunted courtesy runner Gabe Kremer to second and Avery Wood doubled to right-center, with Kremer going to third.
But that’s when the undoing got done on Campbell: A groundout to the second baseman, who threw Kremer out at home. It turned out to be the play of the game, because Campbell never had a better chance of scoring than that.
Walsh, to his credit, didn’t make any excuses for the loss.
“That’s a great team over there,” Walsh said.
In the first, Harrison got its lone run when leadoff man Robbie Stroub walked and 2-hole hitter Brandon Kendall, sacrificed Stroub to second, and Stroub advanced to third on a passed ball, and Martin singled him home. Walsh got a flyout and gave up a double, but shut it down right there with a strikeout.
And Walsh shut down Harrison County the rest of the way, too.
Nobody would have thought of it at the time, because of all the threats, and sharply hit pitches and good pays in the field, but that was the ballgame.
“We had our opportunities, just didn’t get the timely hits,” Walsh said.
Schweitzer put a positive spin on it, but inside he was hurting, as were his players.
“We hadn’t been here since 2004, and I don’t plan on that (absence) happening anymore,” Schweitzer said.
Walsh, a senior, will look back on this year and his career positively.
“Our coach got a moustache going through district play, and said he wouldn’t shave it till we lost, so he’s got a good one now,” Walsh said. “We won all our district games and the district tournament and came in here and won two out of three. We’re just a group of guys who like to have fun.”
And they did, right up to the final game.
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