Mudcats play well in Smokies

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By John Herndon

The Central Kentucky Mudcats' 17-and-under baseball team took just one of three games during last weekend's Smoky Mountain Classic, held at Smokies Park, near Sevierville, Tennessee.

The tournament, which features some of the best teams from the eastern half of the United States, was played at the home of the Tennessee Smokies, the AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

“Overall, it was a good weekend at a great park against some very tough competition,” said Mudcat coach Chris Copenhaver.

The Mudcats had planned on playing more games, but rain canceled the rest of the tournament.

Daniel Whalen was outstanding in relief in an 8-7 win over the Yard Dogs from Roanoke, Virginia. Whalen replaced Josh Brown on the mound, getting the win with four stellar innings of work.

“Josh was dominant in the first two innings, but our defense was awful, giving up five unearned runs,” Copenhaver said.

Brown struck out six and gave up one earned run in two innings, but Whalen shut the Yard Gogs down, giving up only a run and three hits the rest of the way.

“We had a big come-from-behind victory and we scored four runs in the last two innings,” Copenhaver said.

Mason Baker drove in the winning run with an RBI-single to right. Connor Wells went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the Mudcat attack.

In the Mudcats' final game in Sevierville, Baker was outstanding, but the Mudcat bats were largely silent in a 3-1 loss to the CTN Thunder, from the middle of Tennessee.

“Mason Baker threw seven innings and was magnificent,” Copenhaver said. “He gave up two earned runs on four hits and one walk.” Baker struck out four.

Baker took a loss because the Mudcats were not able to wake up the bats. The Mudcats managed just five hits with Worth Sparrow driving the Mudcats' only run home with a double.

“It was a well-played game against another good team, but we only had five hits and four of them were singles,” Copenhaver said.

In between the Mudcats took a 10-3 whipping from the Tennessee Aces, a team made up of players from three states.

The Mudcats went up 3-0 early but things fell apart in the sixth as the Aces plated 10 runs.

Sparrow had been outstanding, giving up one hit through five innings, but the Aces exploded with seven hits in the sixth.

“Worth was great but they were good and he got tired,” Copenhaver said.

Brown led the Mudcat attack with two hits, while Sparrow added a double against the Aces.


Mudcats to host wooden bat tournament

The Mudcats' 17-and-under team will be hosting their second annual wooden bat classic at Anderson County High School's Barnes Memorial Field this weekend.

The complete schedule had not been finalized at press time but Copenhaver said he expects games to be played all day Saturday and Sunday with the possibility of some games being played Friday night. The championship game should get underway at approximately 6 p.m. Sunday evening.

“We are pretty excited because we have a team from New York coming to play,” Copenhaver said.

The tournament will be a bit of a throw back as hitters will have to use wooden bats instead of their customary aluminum.

“I like the wood bats much better than the new BBCOR bats,” Copenhaver said. “It is much more natural and just seems more like real baseball.”