The South Warren Spartans (22-13-1) beat Bowling Green 4-3 in the Region 4 tournament championship Wednesday at Nick Denes Field, claiming the region crown in their first appearance and second year of existence.
“I was very optimistic about what we could do in this game, but to beat them three times in a row, that’s a great accomplishment,” SWHS coach Chris Gage said. “The players played really well and played loose. They let it rip, and when they do that, they can play with anybody.”
The Spartans have won 12 games in a row, including three straight wins over No. 6 Bowling Green. They beat the Purples 4-3 last week for the District 14 title.
South Warren advances to the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament, which begins Monday in Lexington.
The Spartans will play the Region 5 winner, either Central Hardin or LaRue County, at 10 a.m. Monday. The Region 5 title will be decided at 5:30 p.m. CDT Thursday.
It was a familiar feeling for Bowling Green, which lost in the region title game for the third time in four years. The Purples last won the region in 2007.
“That’s three out of four we’ve taken the silver trophy home, and we’ll figure out a way one day to get the gold one,” BG coach Dan Mosier said. “It was a great season, and I hope people don’t judge it solely on this game. … This team has been through a lot emotionally, and I told them it’s going to hurt for a while, but I’ve been doing this for 29 years, and the hurt goes away.”
SWHS senior pitcher Josh Barltey struck out seven batters in a complete-game effort, holding BG to six hits, two walks and three runs in seven innings.
Bowling Green started junior Tyler Kilgus, who was charged with two runs in the bottom of the first.
Junior third baseman Andrew Vanthournout drove in senior Jacob Boose with a sacrifice fly, and after senior Jacob Vaughan stole a vacant second base, sophomore shortstop Ty Pitts scored from third in the confusion to make it 2-0.
The Spartans plated two more runs in the third with RBI singles by Vaughan and senior first baseman Cole Dillard.
Bowling Green answered with a two-run single by sophomore designated hitter Seaton Shelton in the top of the fourth, and as they did in the district final, the Purples mounted a comeback effort in the seventh.
Senior center fielder Scooter Hollis scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-3, but that was all BG had in the tank.
Junior Ben Morrison pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief for the Purples and gave up two hits and a walk. Senior third baseman Derick Brock added two hits and scored a run.
BGHS 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 – 3
SWHS 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 – 4
See Thursday’s Daily News for full coverage.