When Josh Upchurch came over to speak with his team after Thursday night’s 9-1 loss to West Louisville in the first round of the Cal Ripken 12-Under All-Star State Tournament, he didn’t like what he saw.
Players had their heads hung, they were kicking the ground and none of the Barren County squad seemed to want to look Upchurch in the eye.
That’s when Upchurch told them to pick themselves up. He said Barren County may have lost its opening game of the tournament, but they would have another chance to play and that they were still alive to win the title.
“We’re better than that team, that’s the thing about it. I feel like we could have won the game. We just made too many errors,” said Upchurch. “Nerves always play a little part in games whenever you involve kids and they’re playing for the first time in the state tournament. But I am not going to make excuses. We didn’t catch the ball and that’s basically what happened.”
Barren County drops to the losers’ bracket of the tournament and will play an elimination game on Saturday, July 14, at 11 CST.
The Trojans opened the game by scraping and clawing their way to a solo run to take the early 1-0 lead.
But West Louisville came right back in the bottom of the inning with five runs to take a 5-1 advantage. Barren County starting pitcher Mason Coots struggled on the mound early, but the Trojans’ defense made mistakes in the field.
“That wasn’t our best game for sure,” Upchurch relayed. “But we will be fine. We will have some players back Saturday. We’re going to practice on Friday, work hard and then we will come back Saturday and we will be fine. I believe these boys can come back.”
Barren County threatened in the second inning, but couldn’t push any runs across. West Louisville answered with two runs in the bottom of the third inning to push its lead to 7-1.
The Trojans batted the ball around the field, only to hit it right at West Louisville players. West Louisville added a single run in the fourth and fifth innings to claim a 9-1 advantage and seal the victory.
“The West Louisville pitcher really didn’t do anything to confuse us. Our guys hit a lot harder pitching than that every day in practice,” said Upchurch. “It was only 5-1 early and we were still in the game, but I think it is hard to dig out of a hole, once you get in it. I think that was part of it tonight.”
Before the Barren County Trojans broke the huddle, Upchurch told them they’re still in the running in the tournament. He encouraged them to never give up.
“The tournament isn’t over for us because we lost,” Upchurch said. “But if they weren’t a little upset about this loss, you would be worried. These kids want to win and they’re used to winning. We’ve put a lot of work into this and we will come back on Saturday. We will be fine.”