• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Bat Jackets lose at home to East Jessamine

TANNER CAVINS has been solid behind the plate since Woodford starting catcher, Charlie Corum, went down with a recent season-ending injury recently. In Woodford’s game against East Jessamine at home on Monday, May 8, the freshman catcher assisted on three outs defensively - two on throws to first and one picking off a runner trying to steal second - and he made another catching a pop-up, foul ball behind the plate. (Photo by Steve Blake/multiexposures.com)

PARKER THOMAS got the start for the Woodford County High School baseball team in its home game against East Jessamine on Monday, May 8. The senior had a rough start in the first inning, but got stronger as the game went along. In all, he pitched six innings, had two strikeouts, but gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks in a hard-fought 4-2 loss to the Jaguars. (Photo by Steve Blake/multiexposures.com)

The Woodford County High School baseball team fell behind early in its home game against East Jessamine on Monday, May 8, and while the Jackets did rally with two runs of their own, the Jaguars won 4-2. “It’s one of those games,” said Woodford head coach Paul Patterson. “We just hit a bunch of balls right at them. I don’t think we were bad. I don’t think they (East Jessamine) were good. I just think we lost a 4-2 baseball game. I still like my team.” With the loss, Woodford is now 18-10 overall, 11-4 in the region and 5-1 in the district. Parker Thomas got the start for the Bat Jackets and had a rough start, which East Jessamine took advantage of with some timely hits to take an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After the first inning, the senior pitcher settled down and pitched a solid game the rest of the way. “He had a little bit of a rough time getting going and getting himself on track,” said Patterson. “Once he did, he was really good. But, (in) that first inning, he was a little bit wobbly just trying to get his legs under him. “I don’t think he pitched bad. They put a couple balls in play that found some holes and defense was a little bit lackadaisical in the first inning. A couple balls had some weird spin on them and found some holes, and it is what it is. But, we kept playing; they (Woodford) just hit it right at them. So, give them credit, they made the plays they were supposed to (make).” The Bat Jackets tried to come back in the bottom of the first inning. It began with a single to center field by senior Jack Ockerman. Then, with junior Sam Flora at the plate, Ockerman stole second to get into scoring position. Flora then laid down a nice bunt, which advanced Ockerman to third. Junior Caleb McNeely was the next batter, and he hit a single into the outfield to score Ockerman and make it a 2-1 ball game. Neither team scored in the next three innings, but in the top of the fifth, the Jaguars scored two more runs to take a 4-1 lead. Woodford was unable to answer in the fifth or sixth, and as the seventh inning began, Patterson sent in senior Alec Neff to relieve Thomas. In all, Thomas pitched six innings and had two strikeouts, while giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks. Neff made the most of his one inning on the mound, as he got the first two East Jessamine batters out on strikeouts. According to Patterson, one of the bright spots for Woodford is having a pitcher like Neff coming in late in the game. “You watched Alec Neff come in and throw an inning,” said Patterson. “I think that’s only his sixth inning of the year and he struck out two, walked one … (as) the last pitcher coming in and throwing 80, 90 miles an hour, with a good curve ball. So, getting him some experience on the mound and developing him there is going to be really big for us in districts and the regions. (I am) happy to get him going and comfortable up there, because he’s got a really nice arm.” Woodford closed out the top of the seventh inning when, with a runner on base on a walk, freshman catcher Tanner Collins threw the runner out trying to steal second. Collins, who has had to replace starting sophomore catcher, Charlie Corum, who broke his arm recently, has done a solid job behind the plate according to Patterson. “When Charlie went down, I think everybody held their breath,” said Patterson. “(But), it’s really nice having him (Collins) in the line-up. … “He’s doing a great job defensively. He hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities offensively, because we haven’t given it to him yet, but that might be coming soon. I just didn’t want him to bite off more than he could chew right off the bat. Just (wanted to) make sure he was focused on goal number one, is to handle the pitching staff, and then goal number two, we’ll get him some at-bats.” In the bottom of the seventh, Woodford began a late rally. It began with two outs and senior Seth Denton on first by a walk. Ockerman then put down a nice bunt, and, on an overthrow by East Jessamine, made it safely to first, while Denton advanced to second. Flora then hit a single to the outfield, which scored Denton to make it 4-2, while Ockerman advanced to second. Then, with two runners on base, McNeely hit a hard line drive towards the shortstop, which looked like it would get by him. But, it didn’t, as he caught the ball on a nice play to end the game and give the Jaguars a 4-2 win. Next up, Woodford closes out the regular season with a busy week, which begins with two home games. The first is Friday, May 12, against Scott County at 5:30 p.m., and the second is against Bath County on Monday, May 15, at 6 p.m. On Tuesday, May 16, Woodford goes on the road to play Boyle County, before returning home for its final three regular season games. The first is on Wednesday, May 17, against Dunbar at 5:30 p.m., and the second is on Friday, May 19, against Danville on senior night at 5:30 p.m. Woodford closes out its regular season on Saturday, May 20, hosting Anderson County at 11 a.m.

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