Owensboro Catholic earns 3rd Region baseball championship

HARNED — Owensboro Catholic will return to the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament for the third time in the last four years.

Catholic earned a hard-fought 3-2 victory over a very good Muhlenberg County squad on Wednesday evening at Tiger Field at Breckinridge County High School.

The Aces advance to an opening round State Tournament game on June 7 at Legends Park in Lexington against the winner of the 13th Region. That regional is in the semifinal round.

“I’m heading out (Friday), going to Barbourville,” Catholic coach Jody Hamilton said of scouting that regional tournament.

No. 11 Catholic will take a 29-7 record to the State Tournament. No. 18 Muhlenberg County finished a strong season 28-8.

It’s become a normal thing, but Catholic had to climb out of a 2-0 hole to get the job done against Muhlenberg. The Aces scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat Breck County 9-4 in the semifinals on Tuesday. Catholic had to erase a 5-run lead with an 8-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth to pull off an 8-5 win against Owensboro in the opening round of the 9th District Tournament.

“It’s great, how else can I feel,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t get old.”

Owensboro Catholic turned to pitcher Luke Quinn to go and win the regional championship, and he delivered with a 76-pitch performance where he gave up seven hits with one walk and one strikeout.

Quinn had to work out of a big jam in the bottom of the sixth when Talan Cartwright hammered a ball deep to left field that was a double, just missed being a 2-run home run, and left runners on second and third with nobody out. Quinn recorded his only strikeout of the game on the next batter. Quinn then induced a ground out and a fly out to end the inning.

“I have to find a way to get an out and keep them from scoring.” Quinn said of his thought process after Cartwright’s double. “If I was going to get one strikeout the whole game that was the best spot for it to be in.”

Catholic knew it wanted to avoid extra innings, and Barrett Evans started the top of the seventh with his second double of the game to the fence in right field.

Parker Heistand reached on a fielder’s choice bunt that was an out at third. Moser singled before a pop out for the second out. Houston Flynn was up as a pinch hitter, and he delivered an RBI single that would be the final score. Flynn was injured on a stolen base try in the first inning, but he was available late for an at-bat.

Madox Jernigan started the seventh inning with a single to left for Muhlenberg. DeBoer grounded into a double play and Sumner Shelton grounded out to end the game.

Muhlenberg County jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third with the help of an error in right when Logen Thomas hit a hit shot that was lost in the sun, resulting in a 2-base error that scored two runs.

Catholic answered right back in the top of the fourth when Evans knocked another double to right with two outs that scored Christopher Burns, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Heistand singled to center to score Evans and tie the game 2-2.

Cartwright pitched very well in turning this into a pitcher’s duel for Muhlenberg County. He gave up seven hits with four strikeouts and four walks.