After overcoming insurmountable odds, the Marion County baseball team was just one win away from completing a dream season, but one thing stood between them and an appearance in the KHSAA Championship game and that was Region 8 rep Simon Kenton.
In a game that would help define their season and legacy, the Knights fought hard just as they had all season, but just came up short. With seven days rest, head coach Patrick Campbell chose to go with Andrew Spalding, who pitched against Hazard, but didn’t get a decision and the move looked like the right one as he held the Pioneers scoreless for the first two innings and actually was responsible for the Knights first run with a two-out homer over the left field wall. Marion County struck again in the top of the third after Simon Kenton starter Mitch Kreidenweis walked Nick O’Daniel to start the inning, then Dalton Hammond reached on a fielders choice. Kelly Mattingly reached base on an error at shortstop and the next batter Cameron Nalley walked loading the bases. Hammond scored on a wild pitch, but the Pioneers escaped further damage by getting out of the inning.
Simon Kenton responded by getting two runs in the bottom of the inning when Spalding walked two of the first three batters he faced and then Trent Kincaid doubled down the left field line scoring Jaren Cooper, who led off the inning with a walk and then after a strikeout, Brayden Trattles reached on a fielding error allowing Kyle Taylor, who was walked earlier to score tying the game at two-each.
After that, the two pitchers, who would both go the distance pretty much shut each other’s batters down for the next two and a half innings. It looked like the game might be headed to extra innings until Simon Kenton changed things in the bottom of the sixth.
Trattles reached base on a throwing error by the shortstop and then Bailey Martin singled sending Trattles to third base. After Martin stole second, Spalding induced a strikeout and then Joey Ponder came up to bat and his attempted bunt resulted in a fielders choice and a muffed throw that allowed Trattles to score breaking the tie. After an out, Hunter Faehr doubled scoring Ponder and Martin to make it 5-2.
Marion County wasn’t finished yet. In the top of the seventh after an out, Cody Browning walked and after Branden Lee struck out, Hammond singled sending Browning to third. Hammond stole second, but with the tying run at the plate, Kelly Mattingly ground out to short.
The Knights ended the season 28-7 and although they came up short, it was quite a ride and one that those who witnessed it will remember for a long time.