• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Bat Jackets beat Lexington Catholic in regional opener

The Woodford County High School baseball team beat Lexington Catholic 3-1 to advance to the Region 11 semifinals. WCHS senior Hunter Hilbert pitched seven innings allowing one run while striking out six. WCHS sophomore Skyelar Johnson hit the game-winning RBI triple to give the Jackets a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning and later scored on a wild pitch to increase Woodford's lead to 3-1. “I just felt great to be able to help out my team,” said Johnson. “We knew they were going to give us all we could handle and as I was watching that ball fly down the line, I knew I had a chance to make something happen.” The Knights scored a run in the top of the first after Hilbert hit a pair of batters and a throwing error by senior first baseman Josh Hall. Hall doubled in the bottom of the first to score junior Ben Browning and tie the game. The Jackets had the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, but LCHS senior Eric Sottile got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning. Hilbert sent the Knights down in order to close out the game. “This was a crazy game,” said Hilbert. “I think we initially realized how many people were out here when the game started and our nerves kicked in, but that is the kind of team we are. We can battle through anything. I loved watching Skyelar (Johnson) run those bases tonight. He came up huge for us, and he is going to be a stud as he grows older.” “Hilbert is such a competitor, and his leadership is off the charts,” said WCHS Coach Paul Patterson. “I am proud of how this team battled back from an early deficit and how they knew that one run would not beat us tonight. Our guys came here to play ball, and we knew we could get some good swings on the ball.” Franklin County The Bat Jackets won the District 41 championship with a 9-3 victory over Franklin County May 23. Woodford fell behind 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning but responded with eight runs in the bottom of the sixth to clinch the championship. Hilbert pitched seven innings allowing six hits and one earned run while striking out nine. The Jackets scored in the bottom of the first inning when WCHS senior Caleb McNeely stole home. The action on the field became tense in the sixth inning when Hilbert threw a pitch high and inside on a Franklin County hitter and the umpires had to separate the players. Hilbert got out of the inning but trailing 3-1. The Bat Jackets exploded in the bottom of the sixth. WCHS senior Josh Hall hit a two-run double to tie the game 3-3. WCHS junior Griffin Blankenship walked, and Noah Pictor scored on a passed ball to give the Jackets a one-run lead. WCHS sophomore Skyelar Johnson hit an RBI single, and junior Leo Guadagni singled to right field and gave the Jackets a 6-3 lead. McNeely hit a deep ball to center field to drive in two runs and gave the Jackets an 8-3 advantage. Corum drove in the final run of the game with an RBI double to extend the Jacket lead to 9-3. Hilbert struck out the side in the top of the seventh inning to end the game. “I was shaking the entire game,” said Hilbert. “My adrenaline is still pumping right now. Anytime we play them, we want to beat them, and that is all that matters to us on the field. They talk a lot on the field, and we wanted to show they we were the best team in the district and that is what we accomplished. I have great teammates and coaches behind me, and that is tremendous to have their support when you pitch a big game like this. "

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