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Simon Kenton’s impressive playoff run ends with 6-5 loss to Pleasure Ridge Park in championship game

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By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

LEXINGTON — With somber looks on their faces, Simon Kenton baseball players packed up their equipment and gathered outside the dugout. They obviously weren’t satisfied with the state runner-up trophy the team received after a 6-5 loss to Pleasure Ridge Park in the state championship game on Saturday at Whitaker Bank Park.

Simon Kenton pitcher Bailey Martin tags out a runner sliding into home plate during the state championship game. (Photo by Marc Figgins)

Across the field, Pleasure Ridge Park players and fans were cheering wildly as someone on the team hoisted the coveted championship trophy over his head.

“We really wanted it a lot,” Simon Kenton senior shortstop Trent Kincaid said of the state title. “I mean, I’m glad to get this far, but I’d rather take the other (trophy) home.”

Simon Kenton battled until the end against the No. 5 team in the final statewide coaches poll. The Pioneers scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and had the tying run on second base when a ground out ended the game.

Pleasure Ridge Park (40-5) claimed its sixth state baseball championship with the win. Simon Kenton (27-16) received the runner-up trophy for the second time in the last four years. This is the fourth consecutive year that a Northern Kentucky team has made it to the state baseball final and lost.

Simon Kenton wasn’t ranked among the top 20 teams in the final statewide coaches poll, but the Pioneers made an impressive run in the playoffs. They won the 8th Region championship and reached the state championship game with mostly underclassmen in the lineup.

“I hope it says we’ve got tough kids that compete,” Simon Kenton coach Troy Roberts said of his team’s bid for the state title. “We don’t have the D-1 kids (major college recruits) on our field, but we’ve got kids who just want to play the game and play it the right way.”

Jaren Cooper tries to make a diving catch in the outfield for the Pioneers. (Photo by Marc Figgins)

Pleasure Ridge Park took a 4-1 lead in the second inning when two runs scored on a sacrifice fly and throwing error. The Panthers added one run in the third inning and another in the fourth that extended their lead to 6-2.

Simon Kenton scored two runs on five hits in the first two innings. A single by junior outfielder Brayden Trattles knocked in the first run, but that was followed by a inning-ending double play with a runner tagged out in a rundown. In the second inning, senior catcher Hunter Faehr had a run-scoring single, but two runners were left on base.

The Pioneers had the top of their batting order coming to the plate in the fifth inning. After a diving catch in the outfield robbed Kincaid of a hit, the next two runners reached base. It looked like a two-out single by junior pitcher Bailey Martin would score a run, but pinch runner Logan Kreidenweis stumbled while rounding third and was tagged out to end the inning.

Simon Kenton shortstop Trent Kincaid loses his footing as he spins to make a throw after fielding a ground ball. (Photo by Marc Figgins)

With the top of the order coming up once more in the seventh inning, the Pioneers started off with back-to-back doubles by junior outfielder Kyle Taylor and Kincaid that cut the lead to 6-3. The next batter was junior first baseman Brennan Baker, who hit a grounder and was called out on a close play at first base.

“I thought he was safe,” said Roberts, who called a time out to argue with the umpire. “I’d love to see the replay, but I thought he was safe.”

After Trattles drew a walk, Kincaid scored on a ground out. Trattles went to second on that play and came home on junior designated hitter Zane Fuqua’s single to make the score 6-5. Fuqua advanced to second on the throw, but senior third baseman Joey Ponder grounded out to end the game.

“They made a lot of great plays, but we still came back and fought,” Kincaid said. “We weren’t going to back down, but we just couldn’t pull through there at the end.”

Pleasure Ridge Park won three of its four state tournament games by one-run margins so veteran coach Bill Miller wasn’t too alarmed when the Pioneers rallied in the seventh inning of the championship final.

“I didn’t want them to, but I expected them to give us a close finish,” Miller said. “They’re a good club and they played hard. To get this far, you have to do a few things right.”

Kincaid, Martin and senior pitcher Mitchell Kreidenweis were the three Simon Kenton players named to the state all-tournament team. Highlands pitcher Ethan Doty was also selected for that honor.

Kincaid was a four-year starter at shortstop for the Pioneers and played on both state runner-up teams. His senior season didn’t end the way he wanted, but he enjoyed the ride.

“I’m really proud of me and all the guys because we’ve overcome a lot of stuff during the season,” he said. “We hit a hot streak during the playoffs and just went with it. We can all be proud of that.”

PLEASURE RIDGE PARK  041  100 0 — 6  13  2
SIMON KENTON                 110  000 3 — 5  10  1

WP — Glass. LP — Martin. HITTING LEADERS:  PRP — Akbar 2-3, 2B; Carnes 3-4, 2 2B; Glass 2-3; McDonald 2-3, 2 RBI. SK — Taylor 3-4, 2B; Kincaid 2-4, 2B. RECORDS: Pleasure Ridge Park 40-5; Simon Kenton 27-16.

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