By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
PRESTONSBURG — Knox County 11-year-old coach Scott Payne was hoping to save ace pitcher Tucker Holland for today's 11-year-old state championship game, but after staring at a 6-2 deficit to North Oldham in the second inning of Thursday's state semifinal game, Payne decided to bring Holland in, and it turned out to be the right decision.
Holland silenced North Oldham's bats for the game's final four innings, as Knox County rallied to score 10 unanswered runs to advance to its second straight state title game today at 6:30 p.m. by defeating their counterparts, 12-6.
"We managed to battle back and win," a relieved Payne said. "This was a test tonight and we were able to win.
"We came in with the plan to hold Tucker for the state championship game, but we got into some trouble," he added. "It was the same scenario as last year."
Despite seeing his team fall behind four runs, Payne said he wasn't worried.
"I knew if we kept hitting the ball we would be fine," he said. "I just told our kids to keep hitting the ball and we would get back in the game."
The Knox County players listened to their coach and put together a furious rally.
Trey Owens connected with a two-run triple while Holland's three-run homer gave his team a commanding 12-6 lead.
"That gave us the cushion we needed," Payne said. "I was really proud of our kids tonight."
Now Knox County will get a chance to erase last year's memory of losing in the state title game.
"We are taking a different approach," Payne admitted. "Last year we were feeling like it was just an honor being there. I think we felt the pressure.
"This year it's different because we are looser and having fun," he added. "That's the best approach to take. We are focused and ready to go. If we hit the baseball I really like our chances to win (the state championship)."
Sports Editor's note — Knox County's opponent for the state championship game was not known by deadline.
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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