Archive for June, 2011

All-state, all-star baseball

Two Mercer County players earned all-state honors from the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association, and four Advocate-area players are playing in KHSBCA all-star games this week.

Matthew Honchel of Mercer was named to the KHSBCA all-state first team, and Clay Cinnamon of Mercer was named to the second team. Jacob Bodner of Boyle County and Andrew Lasure of Danville were among three 12th Region players who received honorable mention.

Honchel, Lasure, Rob Caudill of Danville and Kody Ross of Boyle County are playing in the KHSBCA East-West all-star games today and Wednesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington. Lasure, Caudill and Ross will play in the juniors’ doubleheader today; Honchel will play in the seniors’ doubleheader on Wednesday.

On the KHSBCA’s list of regional award winners, John Saylor of Rockcastle County was named the 12th Region player of the year, Jody Hamilton of West Jessamine was named coach of the year and Rodney McAninch of Southwestern was named assistant coach of the year.

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Reflections on a run

It all happened so fast.

One minute you’re watching a pretty good Mercer County team on a pretty good roll playing in the first round of the state baseball tournament, and a couple of minutes later you look up and the Titans are in the championship game. And if their four state tournament games seemed to go by in a blur from my perspective at the top of Whitaker Bank Ballpark, imagine how quickly they went for the players.

No, it didn’t end well for Mercer. In fact, it ended with a historically lopsided loss to Central Hardin in the title game Saturday night. That’s gotta sting, but the pain eventually has to be masked by a feeling of tremendous accomplishment that the Titans rightfully earned.

Theirs was a remarkable achievement, given the fact that no previous Advocate-area team had gotten past the round of eight and that no 12th Region team had played in the state finals since 1981. It’s also remarkable when you consider the random nature of single-elimination baseball, which is far more unpredictable than its equivalents in football and basketball.

The other impressive part of the story was how quickly this Mercer team caught the attention of the county’s sports fans. Mercer fans made strong showings at all four rounds of the state tournament, contributing the lion’s share of a championship game-record crowd of 5,079 on Saturday. Theirs is a community that loves a winner as much as everybody else and loves baseball a little more than most, and that makes an old baseball fan like me smile.

I found myself smiling quite a bit last week as I watched Mercer move ever deeper into the bracket. I was smiling every time I talked to coach Jeremy Shope, a good coach and a good man who was bothered by his teams’ past shortcomings a little more than he let on and who was as appreciative as any coach I can remember of a trip to the state tournament. I was smiling as I saw things fall perfectly into place for the Titans time after time, from a good draw to a strong pitching performance to a well-place home run. I was smiling Friday night as I saw players stampeding out of the dugout to celebrate their comeback win over Pleasure Ridge Park — even as I had a camera trained on them to capture their reaction in defeat. And I was smiling Saturday as I heard Shope talk to his team after its 21-2 loss.

I’m sure they’re smiling by now as well, and they probably will be every time they think about what happened over the past four weeks. They may not have earned the champions’ trophy, but they certainly earned that.

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Mercer to make state tourney debut

The Mercer County Titans have to figure they have a pretty good draw in the state baseball tournament. Then again, folks at Boyd County, Union County and North Oldham are probably thinking the same thing.

Opportunity is knocking for all four of those teams, which are grouped in the same quarter of the bracket for the tournament, which began today at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington. Any of the four have to believe they have a legitimate shot to win at least two games, and perhaps they do.

Mercer, Union and North Oldham are the only first-time regional champions in the tourney, and while Boyd is a perennial power in northeastern Kentucky, it hasn’t won its region since 2006. In addition, none of those four are among the eight ranked teams in the 16-team field. No. 1 Lexington Catholic, No. 9 Pleasure Ridge Park and No. 21 Lawrence County are all in the other section of the lower bracket, and the upper bracket includes No. 2 St. Xavier, No. 4 Central Hardin, No. 11 Apollo, No. 18 Clay County (which lost to St. X today) and No. 24 Warren East.

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If you’re interested in reading up on Mercer, Boyd and the other teams in the field, click here to find rosters and stats for all 16 teams, as links to in-progress stats, online audio and video coverage and box scores.

If you’re going to Tuesday’s game, you should know that the first pitch is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. but could be significantly later depending upon the length of the 6 p.m. PRP-Lexington Catholic game. Advance ticket sales have ended, but tickets will be available at the Whitaker Bank Ballpark box office for $10 and $14. All seating is general admission except for the lower-lever seats behind home plate, which are the $14 tickets. Mercer will be the visiting team for its game and will be in the third-base dugout.

The box office and ballpark gates will open at 5 p.m. for the Mercer session, and the KHSAA warns that there have historically been long lines at the ticket windows just before game time. Parking is $3 in the ballpark lot.

If Mercer wins, discounted general admission tickets for its next game — which would be at 6 p.m. Thursday — will be available for $8 for 30 minutes after Tuesday’s game.

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Boyle baseball coach Camic to retire

The Advocate’s Larry Vaught reports today that David Camic is retiring after 11 seasons as Boyle County’s baseball coach, ending a 20-year coaching career that also included nine seasons at Danville.

Camic, a member of the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, leaves as the winningest coach in Advocate-area history. He has a .756 winning percentage, having won 530 of 701 games. His teams won three 12th Region titles — two at Boyle, one at Danville — and made the regional finals 10 times.

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Mercer to face Boyd in state tourney

Mercer County learned Saturday night who its first-round opponent will be in next week’s state baseball tournament when Boyd County defeated Ashland Blazer 4-1 in the 16th Region Tournament title game.

Cody Clark threw a complete game, allowing only three hits to help Boyd (26-10) win its first regional title since 2006.

The state tournament field is nearly complete, with only the 14th Region still to be decided. Click here for the tourney bracket.

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All-Area baseball, softball teams announced

The Advocate’s All-Area baseball and softball teams have been released. Mercer County leads the baseball team and Boyle County leads the softball team with four selections each in balloting of area coaches.

Click these links for the baseball and softball teams.

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Mercer wins first regional baseball title

Mercer County defeated Somerset 11-7 in the 12th Region Tournament final Wednesday night to win the school’s first regional baseball championship.

The Titans rallied behind another offensive explosion, using 13 hits to erase three different Somerset leads. They finished the regional with 44 runs on 45 hits in three games.

Comprehensive coverage with stories, photos and videos can be found at later today.

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