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If there was any doubt about the best baseball team the 30th District, Collins obliterated it last Thursday.
The Titans blasted three home runs – two of them 3-run shots – and pounded 16 hits in a 14-3 romp past host Anderson County at Barnes Memorial Field last Thursday.
Collins pitcher Zac Wiley, a Bellarmine University signee, overcame a bit of a rough start to limit Anderson to five hits. Wiley struck out 11 and issued one walk, that going to lead off hitter Josh Brown.
“Wiley threw very well, but we didn't swing the bats, either,” Anderson coach L.W. Barnes said. “We were not aggressive enough.”
During one stretch Wiley, a right-hander whose fastball was consistently hitting the 85-88 mph rang on the radar gun his grandfather, former major league scout Jim Wiley was operating behind home plate, set down 16 consecutive Anderson hitters.
Designated hitter Lucas Durr was the only Anderson hitter seeing any success against Wiley. Durr smacked a two-run double that gave Anderson a brief 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
After Brown's walk, Dusty Puckett ripped a single in the hole where Collins second baseman Hunter Perry had been before covering second on Brown's steal attempt. It looked like a perfect hit-and-run but Barnes said the call was simply a steal with Puckett delivering a key hit.
Durr then ripped a double into the left-field corner, but it was Anderson's only threat until Durr homered with two outs in the sixth.
By that time, Collins led 12-2. The Titans clinched the top seed in the upcoming district tournament and ran their record to 18-3. Collins won its three district games by a combined 26-3 score.
Anderson fell to 10-8 and 1-2 in district play. The Bearcats will be the No. 3 seed and will play Shelby County in the first round of the district tournament. Collins will play Spencer County in the first round.
Collins quickly showed why it is knocking on the door of a Top 10 statewide ranking.
With two out and two on in the top of the second, Justin Eden, hitting in the No. 8 slot, turned a 1-2 pitch from Brandon Eliadis around, depositing it just over the left-field fence.
““That took the wind right out of our sails after that first inning,” Barnes said.
The next inning, the first four Collins hitters reached base safely with cleanup hitter Paul Miller belting another 3-run smack.
Western Kentucky football signee Dre Farris smashed another home run, a solo shot, to lead off the fourth. Collins plated five in the sixth and two more in the seventh.
Barnes said it was a matter of a good team making the Bearcats pay for not hitting the pitching spots. “We made a couple of bad pitches and those guys hit the ball well,” he said. “Our guys didn't have their best stuff and when we made mistakes, they hit them hard.”
Farris led the Collins onslaught, going 3-for-5 at the plate. Six other Titans had two hits as Anderson eventually used three different pitchers.
Eden drove in four runs while Miller plated three.
A year ago, the Bearcats nearly upset Collins in the district tournament, losing 1-0 in extra innings. Barnes still believes his team has a chance to win the district, which contains three of the teams most observers feel have a chance of representing the Eighth Region at the state tournament. The district tournament is slated to start on Monday, May 19, at Spencer County High School.
“Hopefully, we will get it all back together before the district,” he said.