East Jessamine wasn’t going to be intimidated by West Jessamine’s 29-win record and the Colts weren’t going to overlook a 13-win Jaguars team heading into Monday night’s district tournament opener. Both squads knew that records and previous games meant nothing and that anything could happen — and for the better part of Monday’s game, it looked like East might come up with its biggest win of the season.
“We competed the entire game, we were well prepared and loose. I just thought they were ready to play,” East Jessamine coach Kevin Clary said of his Jaguars.
In the end, it was West’s senior leadership and experience that got the better of the young Jaguars 2-1.
“We knew it was going to be a war. They’re going to fight and scrap anytime — no matter what the record is,” West coach Jody Hamilton said. “They’re going to come out and play us hard, and we knew it was going to be a heck of a game.”
A lead-off walk to start the game by Forrest Baldwin would turn into East Jessamine’s only run of the night. A ground out moved him up to second and a throwing error on a ball hit by Kyle Peel allowed Baldwin to score. Peel moved down to second on the error, but back-to-back pop-ups stranded him in scoring position.
“If we just eat that ball (and not commit an error), that run probably doesn’t score,” Hamilton said.
He was the first of six Jaguars to be stranded in scoring position.
Baldwin was on the hill for East Jessamine as well. After working a quick first inning, he was relegated to the bench for more than 40 minutes as storms moved through the area, causing a 30-minute delay.
“(Baldwin) was dominant, he was really good. He executed his pitches all night, had command on both sides of the plate; he’s a great competitor,” Clary said.
Coming out of the rain delay, Baldwin was as sharp as before, getting three groundouts to shortstop for another quick inning.
The delay didn’t seem to faze West start Zach Settle much at all either. He gave up a one-out double to Baldwin in the third inning but got out of the inning unscathed with back-to-back groundouts.
“Zach settled in a little better than he did the first game (against East), that’s for sure,” Hamilton said.
West was finally able to break through in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Dalton James reached base on a single to left field and went on to steal second base. With two outs, senior Tyler Ward hit a line drive to right-center field, scoring James and tying the game 1-1.
Settle clamped down in the fifth and sixth, and West was able to help him out offensively in the bottom of the sixth.
Trey Merida hit a lead-off single to left field; Tyler Adams moved him down to second with a bunt, and a flyout to right field allowed Merida to tag up and get to third base.
With two outs again, it was Ward with the clutch hit. He singled to center field, giving the Colts a 2-1 lead.
Settle came back out for the top of the seventh attempting to close the door.
“(Earlier in the game), I went to the mound, and he (Settle) said, ‘I want it.’ When your senior who’s been there every day for us the last couple years says he wants it — you have to give him a chance,” Hamilton said. “It was his game to lose.”
Jarryd Settles led off the inning with a single to center and Derius Robinson was brought in to run.
Conner Lindsey bunted Robinson to second base, and an error on a ball hit by Baldwin put Robinson on third base.