DANVILLE — The Lincoln County High School baseball season ended earlier than the Patriots had hoped.
Connor Blevins belted out three home runs and Casey Whittle added another Monday as Boyle County shut out Lincoln 7-0 in a 45th District Tournament semifinal at Danville.
Blevins, a senior, went yard each time he stepped to the plate, leading off the bottom of the second with a solo home run to give Boyle a 1-0 lead. He followed with a two-run shot in the fourth inning and finished with another solo homer in the fifth for the Rebels’ final run.
Whittle, who hit a two-run home run in the fourth just before Blevins’ final long ball, picked up the win for Boyle (17-13), limiting Lincoln (10-24) to two hits. He walked two and struck out five.
“We weren’t (better) today. We knew to advance all we had to do was be better than the other team this one game, and we weren’t,” Lincoln coach Brad McNew said. “Whittle threw the ball well and we didn’t hit it real good, and they hit the ball out. We left some pitches out over the plate and they hit it out, and that’s the difference. If you can’t score runs, you’re not going to win.”
Lincoln did have an opportunity or two to knock the goose egg off its side of the scoreboard, with runners in scoring position in both the second and fifth innings.
Josh Wilson reached on a walk in the top of the second with nobody out only to have Whittle get out of trouble on two ground outs and a pop fly. But Lincoln’s biggest scoring threat came in the fifth when Boone Baird and Austin Greer led off the inning with back-to-back singles. But again Lincoln came up empty-handed. The Patriots popped out two times then Boyle got Baird on a force out off a Tanner Leigh at-bat.
“We had the one opportunity there first and second with nobody out when it was 3-0 and we didn’t get anything across. That’s what really hurt us,” McNew said. “That was the opportunity we had and didn’t capitalize on it. Then from there they came out and hit the home runs and that separated them.”
Lincoln never threatened again with Whittle sitting the Patriots down in order in the sixth and seventh innings to earn Boyle a berth in next week’s regional tournament at Rockcastle County and a shot at the 45th District title.
Whittle scored two of the Rebels’ runs in the win. Before knocking out his fifth-inning homer, the Rebel senior reached on a bunt single then scored on Blevins’ two-run shot over the left field fence in the fourth to make it 3-0.
Brett Jones singled to reach in the fifth inning then scored on a two-out RBI double by Brady Wehmiller. Wehmiller wasn’t up long before Whittle sent his two-run homer over the right field fence to make it 6-0 and end Lincoln starter Logan Young’s time on the mound.
John Day came on in relief and Blevins welcomed him with his final homer and the final Rebel run.
“He’s a senior and played for a few years. Hats off to him,” McNew said of Blevins. “It’s a big stage and he hit the ball big.”
With the win, Boyle advanced to the championship game with Danville Tuesday night. Danville, the winner of nine straight district titles, advanced to the title game with a 6-0 win over Garrard County.
“Our effort was fine today. We came here to win, but baseball is baseball. We left balls out over the plate and they hit them. When we had our opportunity there, we didn’t,” McNew said.
Young allowed six runs off seven hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. Day gave up one run and two hits in 1-1/3 innings up.