By DOUG EADS
LEXINGTON — For six innings on Saturday night at Kentucky Proud Park, Phil Grundy and the Somerset Briar Jumpers had gone toe to toe against one of the top baseball teams in the state of Kentucky in Tates Creek, in the Sub Sectional round of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s State Baseball Touranment.
Grundy’s son — sophomore phenom pitcher Kade Grundy — had hung tough on the mound for five innings, throwing 110 pitches helping his club stay right with the Commodores.
However, with two out in the top of the seventh inning in a 2-2 tie, Somerset couldn’t haul in a lazy, routine fly ball to right center field, and that opened the flood gates for the Commodores.
Tates Creek parlayed that play — or from Somerset’s point of view a lack of a play — to score four runs, thus ending the Briar Jumpers season with a 6-2 win over Somerset, in a gut-wrenching loss for the 12th Regional champions.
“We didn’t hit the ball at all tonight until the fourth inning, and we’ve seen better pitching than that this year,” lamented coach Grundy after the game.
“I’m not taking anything away from Tates Creek, but we’ve played a tough schedule and we’ve faced a lot of Division One pitchers throughout the season,” added the Somerset coach. “Those two guys (Blayne Deaton and Grant Stone) just shoved the ball down our throats all night long. They threw nothing but fastballs, and we were tardy all night, and we never made an adjustment.”
For pitcher Kade Grundy, it was basically feast or famine from the outset.
The sophomore pitcher allowed seven basehits — all singles — against the first 14 Tates Creek hitters he faced.
Grundy also fanned eight of the first 17 Commodore hitters he faced as well.
It could have been worse for Somerset, but Grundy and the Jumpers only trailed in this one 1-0 through two innings of play.
In the home half of the third frame, Somerset took a 2-1 lead, thanks to an RBI single from Cam Ryan, and he would eventually come home with the go-ahead run, thanks to a wild pitch from Tates Creeks’ Blayne Deaton.
That lead would not last long however.
The Commodores would knot things up in the top of the fifth thanks to a Somerset error, and the game would remain tied up at 2-2 headed into that decisive seventh inning.
In that final at bat for the Commodores, reliever Jon Phipps was just an out away from getting out of a jam and holding things at 2-2, but a routine fly ball to right center field that should have been caught but wasn’t, allowed the go-ahead run to score, and then the roof caved in on Somerset.
A pinch-hit RBI double from Antonio Chambers padded the lead to 4-2, and before the dust would settle, two more runs would come across the plate, sending the Briar Jumpers down to a 6-2 hole with only one at bat left.
Somerset mounted a threat in the bottom of the seventh inning, thanks to a two-out single from Dakota Acey and a pinch-hit double from Andy Childers.
However, Stone got off the hook by getting Grundy on a ground out to end the game, and ending Somerset’s season at 22-13 on the year.
“We’re playing a team tonight like Tates Creek that’s been ranked in the top five all year long, and no one gave us a chance, and I know Tates Creek understands they were in a real ballgame today,” pointed out Grundy.
“We had a chance to win, but you’ve got to make plays, because when you don’t, good teams make you pay for it, and Tates Creek did that tonight,” Grundy added. “That’s a fly ball to the outfield that in a game like this in a tie game in the seventh inning that we’ve just got to catch. We’ve got a lot of young kids coming back next year, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of luck to get here, and we had both this year.”