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Rockets give Bears a rough ride

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By John Shindlebower

The Spencer County Bears put together some good games over the course of the season, but their last outing of the year was far from a gem on the diamond as they struggled in a 19-3 rout at the hands of Shelby County in the opening round of the 30th District Tournament in Shelbyville last Tuesday night.

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Dropped balls, errant throws, and numerous walks and hit batters allowed the Rockets to keep runners on the base paths all night long as they raced out to an early lead and never were really threatened by Spencer County .

After a scoreless first inning, several errors in the second inning allowed Shelby County to put up four runs and in the bottom of the inning, the Bears were unable to muster any offense.

In the third inning, Shelby County led off with a double, then a single and another error led to another run. With runners on the corners with two outs, two straight walks led to another run and a pitching change. However, a hit batter and another walk brought in two more runs and if not for a diving catch by centerfielder Brian Fowler, the inning could have been even worse.

In the Spencer half of the third inning, the Bears tried to use their speed to put runners on the bases and it looked like it might work when Josh Ballinger led off the inning with a bunt hit. Two batters later, Fowler followed suit with a bunt that he was able to beat out for a hit and the Bears had two runners on with only one out. However, Spencer County was unable to come up with a clutch hit to bring in any runs.

In the top of the fourth, walks again proved costly for the Bears pitchers. A walk to lead off the inning was followed by two consecutive hit batters, loading the bases. A fly ball to left field was dropped, but Cameron Smith recovered well and threw a strike to the plate to get the runner as he tried to score. However, the Rockets did manage to get two more runs in the inning to take a 10-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth.

The Bears did manage to light up the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth. Johnny Thacker led the inning off with a solid hit up the middle and he advanced to second when Tim Riley lined a shot through the right side of the infield. Two consecutive walks then forced in a run.

With one out, Cameron Smith hit into a fielders’ choice that drove in the Bears’ second run and Fowler again beat out a bunt that brought in a third run in the inning to make it a 10-3 game.

Spencer County held the Rockets to just one run in the top of the fifth, a run that was aided by a walk and then another fielding error, but the Bears went quickly three up and three down in their half of the inning and trailed 11-3 heading into the sixth.

That’s when the Rockets busted out for a huge 8-run inning. They collected three straight singles and then the walks and errors continued to pile up and when the inning was complete, the Rockets had built a 19-3 lead. The Bears could not scored in the bottom of the sixth and the game was called.

Spencer County finished 9-15 on the year, with the highlight of the season a 3-1 victory over eventual district winner Anderson County .

Anderson County beat Shelby County 15-4 in the district tournament championship game and both were still alive over the weekend in regional play.