A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Junior pitcher leads Beechwood to long-awaited victory in 9th Region baseball championship game

By Matthew Dietz
NKyTribune sports reporter

Beechwood junior Brett Holladay said he started thinking about winning this year’s 9th Region baseball tournament after the first game of the 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic.

On Monday night, he led the Tigers to that long-awaited victory on the mound and at the plate during a 5-2 win over Covington Catholic in the region championship game at UC Health Stadium that drew a large crowd.

Beechwood winning pitcher Brett Holladay also hit a home run during a 5-2 victory over CovCath in the 9th Region final. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Holladay pitched a complete game, allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out seven. He also hit his second home run of the season to help his team get back in the state playoffs after winning the 9th Region title in 2019.

“I was just trying to mix up all pitches, throw them all for strikes,” said the right-hander who was named most valuable player on the region all-tournament team.

The Tigers’ next goal is making a run at the state title. They will play 12th Region champion Danville in a sectional playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday at the University of Kentucky.

Winning the region championship meant even more to Beechwood coach Kevin Gray due to a personal tragedy he  went through in the last several months. He lost his father in December due to COVID-19 and said the baseball team has gotten him through the toughest thing he ever faced in his life.

“In ‘19 when we won it, he was the happiest person in this place,” Gray said of his father. “He just loved baseball, he loved the Reds, and this would mean the world to him.”

CovCath took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when senior third baseman Tyler Hutson drove in senior outfielder Jaden Siemer on a single to right field. The Colonels got another run in the fifth inning, but that was all Holladay allowed.

Beechwood took a 3-1 lead off CovCath pitcher Trevor Wilson in the top of the third inning. Right fielder Cameron Boyd led off the frame with a triple and promptly scored on an RBI single by sophomore catcher Bryce Estep.

Brett Holladay allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out seven for Beechwood. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

The Tigers grabbed another run on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Mitchell Berger before Holladay put his stamp on the game from the batter’s box as well.

In the at-bat that turned out to be Wilson’s last of the night, Holladay drove a pitch to the opposite field and snuck it over the fence in left.

With a two-run cushion, Holladay went back to the mound and continued to throw strikes, keeping CovCath hitters off balance throughout the evening.

In the fourth, Holladay allowed two base runners via a walk and a single, but induced a ground out from CovCath pinch-hitter Alex Dietz to end the inning.

After Beechwood added another run on a sacrifice fly by Boyd in the top of the fifth inning, Holladay worked his way around an RBI single by CovCath senior Owen Nally, ending the threat with a fly out.

“Just trusting my stuff, all the stuff I’ve been practicing, I just tried to throw strikes,” Holladay said of working his way out of danger.

In the top of the sixth, Beechwood shortstop Ben Meier opened the inning by lacing a triple into deep center field. He then scored on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze play by second baseman Jackson Roseburrough.

“(The count) was 2-0 and he was sitting outside on me, and threw me one inside and I jumped on it,” Meier said of his triple. “I missed a few earlier in the game and I thought I would just jump on that one.”

Beechwood players celebrate after winning the region championship game. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

With the Tigers leading 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, CovCath was able to bring the tying run to the plate after Holladay walked Hutson and Nally with two outs. Coach Gray paid a visit to the mound, but he had no intentions of pulling his pitcher from the game.

“I didn’t even get to the mound and he said ‘I got this coach, I got this,’” Gray said about the brief seventh-inning mound visit with Holladay.

Holladay was able to induce a pop up to first base from Danneman that ended the game.

“I knew he popped it up and I knew it was in play and it was just all greatness,” Holladay said of the final out.

Because the 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic, Beechwood dedicated this season to last year’s graduating seniors who were not able to play a single inning in their final year at Beechwood.

“They didn’t get a chance their senior year, obviously, and they would have been a big help,” Meier said. “I feel like we would have won three (region titles) in a row”

Gray said the way Holladay pitches, commanding all three of his offerings and throwing strikes, the team was very confident heading into Monday evening.

“His freshman year, he was our ace,” Gray said. “With Brett on the mound, you don’t really feel nervous about the game, because you know he is going to throw strikes. If they outhit us they outhit us, but he was really good tonight. He had control of all three pitches.”

BEECHWOOD  003 101  0 — 5 7 0
COVCATH         100  010 0 — 2 6 1
WP — Holladay (7 Ks). LP — Wilson (2 Ks). HITTING LEADERS: BW — Holladay HR; Meier 3B; Jackson 2-4; Boyd 3B. CC —  Wirth 2-2. RECORDS: Beechwood- 31-6, CovCath 34-3-1.

Beechwood — Brett Holladay (MVP), Jacob Norton, Drew Fieger, Mitchell Berger. CovCath — Tyler Hutson, Pete Williams, Ashton Isler. Conner — Jackson Bucks, Griffin Hammond. Ryle — Ryan Goodridge, Jacob Stone. St. Henry — Reid Ravenscraft. NewCath — Brennan Seiter. Dixie Heights — Ethan Bosley. Highlands — Jake Gulley

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