SCOTTSVILLE — Paced by a stellar pitching performance and a big hit from one of their senior leaders, the Allen County-Scottsville Patriots played a complete game Monday and now find themselves in position to win a District 15 title.
As the No. 1 seed in the tournament, ACS never trailed to Monroe County and advanced to the district final with a 5-1 win. The victory also qualifies the Patriots for next week’s 4th Region tournament.
“It’s what we’ve been working for all year,” ACS starting pitcher Hunter Foster said after taming the Falcons’ bats over six innings of work.
But it was the offense that staked the Patriots to a nice early lead.
ACS sent seven batters to the plate in the home half of the first inning, as Tristen Brooks led-off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Brett Rippy drew a one-out walk to join Brooks on the base-paths, and they both came home to score on a towering drive by senior Cayden Ross that just barely stayed in the park.
Ross said after the game that he was looking to hit the ball hard on the ground to drive home a run, and was ecstatic to see the baseball fly deep into left field instead.
Ross settled for a triple and Foster helped his own cause by driving him home on a sacrifice fly to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
Foster then retired Monroe County in order in the top of the second, ending the inning with a strikeout.
Monroe County starting pitcher Wade Thompson retired the first batter of the bottom of the second before Tyler Ford singled to right field. He advanced on an error, and would come home to score the fourth run of the game on a Brooks’ base hit.
Foster again sent the Falcons down in order in the third inning, adding another strikeout in the process. He was in control almost his entire time on the mound, but Foster said he wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“I was confident, but there’s always that thought in the back of your head,” Foster said.
Thompson struck out Ross to begin the bottom of the third, but the ball got past the catcher and Ross reached first base.
After Ross stole second base, Arron Howell drove him home with a single to center field.
Braden Murphy put Monroe County on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning when he belted a solo homer over the left field fence to make it a 5-1 game.
Foster bounced back to strike out the next two hitters before surrendering walks to Kale Hagan and Gabe Henson.
After a coaching visit to the mound, Foster got out of the jam by forcing a line out to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth inning, Chandler Clements drew a two-out walk and Kale Hagan followed with a single. But Foster ended the threat with a strikeout and the Patriots maintained their 5-1 lead.
Foster reached on a single to lead-off the bottom of the sixth inning, but Thompson struck out the next two batters and got the final out on a ground ball.
Owen Stamper came in to pitch the seventh inning for ACS. He struck out the first two hitters en route to retiring the side in order and securing the win for the Patriots.
“All of these guys have been working hard in practice every day,” Foster said of his teammates following the victory.
ACS defeated Monroe County in all three meetings this season.
“They always say it’s hard to beat somebody three times, and we did beat them twice this year. But we were confident,” Ross said.
The Patriots will play the winner of Barren County/Glasgow on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the district championship game. The Trojans and Scotties will play at 6 p.m. Tuesday at ACS, which is hosting the baseball and softball tournaments.
Ross said pitching will be the key to the district tournament finale.
“If we pitch the ball like Hunter did tonight, there’s no doubt we’re going to win a district championship,” he said.