Beechwood’s bats go cold in state tourney loss

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They hadn’t been shutout all season.

But for the second straight season, the Beechwood baseball team was shutout in the state tournament, losing 3-0 to Apollo on Thursday at Counter Clocks Field in Lexington.

The Tigers left nine men on base, just never found the timely hit as they outhit the Eagles 4-2 in the contest.

Beechwood came in averaging over eight runs per game and put a runner on base in every inning but the sixth.

“(Noah) Cook and (Will) Strode were as good as advertised. Cook had a good curveball, really good curveball and kept us off-balance. Got us out on our front foot and that’s what happens when you fly out as much as we did tonight,” Tigers coach Kevin Gray said. “You get down here and these pitchers are here for a reason and these teams are here for a reason. Had opportunities, just didn’t come up with any key hits.”

The Tigers won a state tournament game over Owensboro Catholic last season, but followed that with a 1-0 loss to Russell County.

A pitcher’s duel between the Tigers’ Matthew Kappes and Eagles’ Noah Cook put the game at a sprinter’s pace after the start was delayed 69 minutes thanks to a 11-inning game in the contest before them.

Kappes didn’t allow a Apollo runner to reach second base until the three-run Eagles sixth inning broke the ice. It started with a Garrett Lanham infield single, the Eagles first hit of the game.

“I thought Kappes was outstanding tonight. Jammed the guy there and got through the six hole and that’s how that inning got standing,” Gray said.

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Lanham then stole second and reached third on a passed ball with no outs. Michael Detzel then laid out for a grounder down the third base line, snagging the ball and catching Lanham off the bag, but on a throw home and then back to third, Lanham was able to slide under what Beechwood thought was an out, but the umpire thought differently, ruling Lanham safe as Grayson Smith reached second on the fielder’s choice.

Will Strode was then intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs.

The Tigers looked close to escaping the inning unscathed after a groundout to Detzel and a lineout to Nazario Pangallo in left, but Sam Holder delivered the big blow with a triple to left center and scoring all three Eagles on the paths.

“Thought we were going to get out of it and then big hit. They had one big hit and we had none and that was the turning point in the game,” Gray said. “We got outhit every game in the region, but we had more timely hits.”

In a game where the first and only big hit was needed, it was.

The Tigers went silent in the bottom half of the sixth before starting to make people wonder in the seventh if they had another comeback in them in the final inning and trailing by multiple runs. They had faced that scenario several times throughout the season and pulled off the comeback on four different occasions, including the region semifinals against Dixie Heights to extend their season.

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But with the state’s leading homerun hitter to the plate and two on with two outs in the seventh, Strode got Cameron Boyd to strike out swinging to end the game.

It puts an end to 11 seniors high school careers that experienced the best run in program history with three straight region titles during their time in high school.

“They’ve put their mark on Beechwood baseball. They’ve got a legacy here at Beechwood. They set the precedent and now we expect to be here,” Gray said.

Now the next class will try to build off of it.

APOLLO — 000-003-0 — 3-2-1

BEECHWOOD — 000-000-0 — 0-4-1

3B — (A) Holder

WP — Cook. LP — Kappes.

LOB — Apollo 3, Beechwood 9

Records: Apollo 24-12, Beechwood 27-9

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