It seemed like just yesterday for head coach Jeff Gumm. He was standing in the dugout at Nelson County high school as his Taylor County Cardinals prepared to face the North Hardin Trojans for the 2006 5th Region Baseball Championship on the line. Then, he was looking across at his brother Greg, who was the longtime head coach for the Trojan. You see, the Gumm’s have been in baseball for a long time. This time around, it wasn’t a fond ending for Jeff as his team could not handle Greg’s Ace Nathan Adcock and walked off the field as 10-3 losers.
It had been thirteen long years since the Cardinals had last won the 5th Region and advanced to face Ballard at Derby City Park in Louisville and with the threat of rain on the way, Gumm’s team had reached the 5th Region Final and now had to make a decision on who to put on the mound for the Championship game and after using both Cole Dawson (6-2) and D J Goodin (9-1) in games one and two on consecutive days, Gumm chose to throw senior Griffin Hall (9-1) against the Trojans. Even though Hall had threw two innings of short relief against Central Hardin in Game One, the Cardinal Nation felt confident that he would be more than up to the task.
On the other side of the field was Ace Adcock. It seemed like every time the Trojans had won a Region Final since 2004 there was an Adcock on the team, whether it was Ace himself on the 2004 North Hardin squad which beat Elizabethtown and became the last 5th Region team to make a State Tournament appearance through the semi-state setup (until that was eliminated following the 2009 season) or his younger brother Nathan, who faced Gumm’s team in the 2006 Regional Final. Also, you could say that the Gumm’s have had quite a history in the playoffs as Jeff’s brother Greg had coached the North Hardin team which reached the State Finals in 1997.
Adcock had taken over the position as head coach after being an assistant under Greg after playing at Lindsey Wilson college and then helped build this team back to the elite status that they were accustom to. Adcock, also had to make a tough coaching decision on who to start for the Championship game. After Andrew Henderson went five in the Marion County win and Parker Estes threw a complete game victory against Green County, sophomore Seth Yates at the Cardinals with senior Kyle Collin on watch just in case. The tiny hurler had seven wins that season and had Adcock’s respect during the season and his confidence would be tested against the Taylor County batting lineup.
In a matchup of 30-win teams in seemed like it be a low scoring game. After retiring the Trojans in the top of the first, Taylor County went to work against Yates. After back-to-back hits put the Cardinals in buisness, Dawson Cole’s double scored a run and then Grant McQuery took Yates deep and Taylor County took a 3-0 first inning lead.
It looked like it could be a long afternoon for the Trojans, but they and Yates recovered. Even though he rarely retired the Cardinals in order, he didn’t allow anymore runs after a shaky beginning and after three innings and was replaced by Collin in the fourth.
The Trojans showed signs of life against Hall in the fourth. After Collin singled, Parker Estes blasted a home run to cut the lead to 3-2. It was the only runs Hall gave up, who baffled North Hardin all afternoon throwing 98-pitches, allowed only three hits, just two runs, no walks and six K’s. Hall, who has been used much as a reliever most of the season did run into trouble in the sixth after Eric Moore singled and Collin reached on a single, but the Cardinals got out of the inning without any damage.
Taylor County did get some insurance with a long shot off by Collin in the fifth by Dawson Cole (3rd) and that was pretty much it as the game ended with a 4-2 score and the Taylor County Cardinals returned to the State Tournament. The postseason win broke Taylor County’s record of wins in a season set the last time they made a state appearance back in 2001. Ironically, that season the Region was played at North Hardin high school.
For North Hardin, there was saddness and the realization that they came up just a bit short. Adcock will lose four seniors and they will be hard to replace, but the foundation he has built hopefully will last for some time and in a District with Central Hardin and Elizabethtown which has no breaks or breathers we shall see.
Gumm, who had taken the Boys Basketball coaching job on an interim basis last season took his team to the Region final there as well and had little breathing room going from one sport to the other. Gumm showed class when he credited Adcock for his accomplishments and wished them well afterwards. After all, who wouldn’t understand the exhileration and depression in a sport that shows no mercy sometimes than a Adcock or a Gumm.
One things for sure, the Taylor County Cardinals will have little time to celebrate with a semi-state game against powerful PRP tomorrow, but for just one evening everything seemed like 2001 all over again in Campbellsville.
Well, at least for one night.