Cards take home 40th District Championship

Published 11:30 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

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In 2017, the George Rogers Clark Cardinals baseball team took home a 40th District Championship en route to an appearance in the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament. 

After seven years, the Cards have captured the district flag again.

On Tuesday, GRC (26-11) defeated Bourbon County (20-8) at Bourbon County High School by a 9-0 score to win the 40th District Championship. 

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“When I took the job, I thought this team had a chance to be able to compete to win one,” said first-year head coach Eddie Brooks. “They came out everyday…and proved me right. They did a great job!” 

Before the Cardinals went on to win the district championship, they faced some early adversity.

Though seeded number one overall, GRC fell behind 6-0 to Paris in a 40th District semifinal matchup as the Greyhounds delivered all six runs in the top of the first inning thanks to RBIs from players including Xavier Brown and Luke Berry. 

However, the Cards would rally back. 

After cutting the deficit in half thanks to RBI doubles from Caden Spicer and Ben Fulks, GRC broke the game open in the third quarter with five runs, punctuated by a two-run triple by center fielder Kamden McAlpin.

“We fought back….we showed who we are,” said McAlpin. “We’re a strong team.” 

The Cards added to their lead on several occasions, and won 16-6 in six innings after Spicer scored following a wild pitch. 

The next night, the Cards took on the Colonels. 

Through the first four innings, a strong pitcher’s duel occurred as GRC’s Jordan Soliz and Bourbon County’s Jake Scott each kept the opponent off the scoreboard. 

“I [have] pitched against them a couple times,” Soliz said. “I was like, ‘I’m not [going to] pitch for strikeouts. [I’ll] just throw it out, let them hit it, and let my defense work behind me.’” 

Bourbon County looked to threaten early in the second quarter. 

However, leadoff hitter JT Ritchie was thrown out at second base by Ben Fulks while attempting to stretch a single into a double. 

In the fifth inning, the Cards broke through. 

After Brady Davis and Fulks each reached base following errors, Abe Mullins laid down a perfectly executed bunt single to load the bases with nobody out. 

“Usually when you put it down you get out, but we got lucky there and I was excited,”  said Mullins. 

Senior Carter Maynard, one of many upperclassmen leading the team this year, came through in the following at-bat with a two-strike single that scored a pair of runs for a 2-0 Cards’ lead. 

“My mindset was really [to] put it on the ground and hopefully score a run,” said Maynard. “We’re hard to stop when we get rolling…it’s like a snowball effect.” 

The snowball effect continued in a big way. 

After McAlpin delivered another RBI, the Cards added two more runs when a squeeze play was successfully executed with JP Gaines up to bat.

An RBI single by Abrahm Howard, triple by Spicer, single by Davis, and groundout by Mullins gave the Cards a commanding 9-0 lead after the fifth inning. 

With Lochlan Hansel now on the mound, the Cardinals moved on to a victory by that final score. 

“My mindset was just fastball down,” Hansel said. 

The victory was extra sweet for some on the Cards, who were knocked out of the postseason following a 2-0 loss to the Colonels last season. 

“”It feels great,” McAlpin said. “There’s nothing like beating the team that beat you out last year, especially beating them in a district championship.” 

With the 10th Region Championship upcoming, the Cards continue to look forward toward what lies ahead. 

“I [think] they have the pieces to be able to do something special,” Brooks said. “Hopefully, we’re not done and [will] be ready and refocused for the Region [tournament].”