PRESTONSBURG — The Floyd County Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth League claimed three state championships in the 2018 season, competing in Ohio Valley Regional tournaments against squads from several other states. Over the past two seasons, the Floyd County youth baseball league has captured five state titles.
Three Floyd County teams traveled to Ohio Valley Regional tournaments to represent Kentucky with East Kentucky Tribe squads competing in Munster, Ind. (13U); Robinson, Ill. (14U), and Elkins, W.Va. (15U). The Tribe competed against teams from West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin for a chance to play in the World Series.
East Kentucky Tribe 13U, 14U, 15U and 18U All-Star teams consisted of players from nine regular-season Babe Ruth teams that competed in Prestonsburg.
The 13U Babe Ruth All-Star team advanced to the Ohio Valley Regional after winning a state championship. Outstanding pitching performances from Nicholas Kidd and Dylan Thompson helped to lift the 13U club. Both Sam Wright and Jackson Jarrell finished the state tournament with a batting average of .600. J.D. McKinney exited the tournament with a batting average of .500 and an on-base percentage of .857.
At the Ohio Valley Regional tournament, the 13U team finished with a 1-2 record after beating Southern Indiana and falling to Ohio and Northern Indiana. In the final game of pool play, Northern Indiana edged East Kentucky 5-4.
The 14U Babe Ruth All-Star team advanced to the US Ohio Valley Regional after outlasting Russell County 3-2 in the state championship game. Byron Tackett provided a stellar pitching performance while Byron Tackett delivered a walk-off double for the 14U team.
Payton Burke and Jon Kunkel both exited the state tournament with a batting average of .538.
At the Ohio Valley Regional, the 14U team was among the final six squads with a 2-1 record after beating Illinois, Ohio and losing to Michigan in pool play. The 14U team blanked New Castle, Indiana 4-0. Byron Tackett, the player of the game, pitched a shutout, only allowing one hit in seven innings while throwing 64 pitches. On Monday, the 14U team moved on to the semifinals with a 3-1 record, facing Hammond Optimist, Ind. In a back-and-forth batle, Hammond owned 5-4 lead in the top half of the fifth inning when weather halted the game and caused the contest to have to continue the next day. After continuing on Monday, Indiana managed to pull away to win 10-5. The Hammond club advanced to the championship game and beat South Gibson, Ill., moving on to the World Series in Eagle Pass, Texas. Burke finished the Regional tournament with a batting avg. of .667 while Morgan Kunkel batted .555.
“We had a great run," said 14U Manager Kyle Welch. "It hurts to fall short knowing we were so close to the World Series but to even make it this far is an amazing accomplishment. I am proud of every player on this team. They are a great group of young men that never stopped playing. We expect big things for the future.”
The 15U Babe Ruth All-Star team advanced to the Ohio Valley Regional in neighboring West Virginia. The 15U team finished with a record of 1-2, falling short of advancing out of pool play. Indiana edged the Kentucky team 9-7. However, Kentucky bounced back to beat Southern Illinois 8-3. But West Virginia ended Kentucky's run, defeating the All-Star team from Floyd County.
The 13U All-Star roster was made up of the following players: Seth Fitch, Preston Helle, Caden Kelly, Cam Kelsey, Andrew Kidd, Matt Welch, Nick Kidd, J.D. McKinney, David Mullins, Cash Parks, Alex Puccio, Sam Wright, Jackson Jarrell, Dawson Yeary, Trenton Sherman and Dylan Thompson. Coaches were Seth Setser, Will Harris and James Joseph.
The 14U All-Star roster was made up of the following players: CJ Akers, Lucas Combs, Payton Burke, Jacob Burgess, Byron Tackett, Samuel Brown, Hunter Mullins, Tate Walters, Jon Kunkel, Morgan Kunkel and Gavin Crum. Coaches were Kyle Welch, Tim Welch and Patrick Burke.
The 15U All-Star roster was made up of the following players: Bobby Anderson, Isaac Coleman, Zac Crum, Jordan Frazier, Cameron Kimbler, Connor Lemaster, Max Martin, Bryce Ousley, Nathaniel Spences, Jared Stanley, Josh Taylor and Luke Thornsbury. Coaches were Josh Crum and Shane Coleman.
The 18U All-Star roster was made up of the following players: Nick Caudill, Collin Ousley, Blake Sizemore, Ben Welch Jr., Matt Combs, Graham Burchett, Brayden Hamilton, Joseph Johnson, Owen Greene, Chase Conley and Aaron Shepherd. Coaches were Ben Welch Sr. and Sean Hamilton.