HUNTINGBURG, Ind. — The Hoptown Hoppers tried to carry the momentum and the offense from Tuesday’s win against Henderson but neither made the trip to Dubois County, where the Bombers came away with a 4-2 in game one of the Ohio Valley League Championship series Friday.
Former Caldwell and Hopkinsville Tiger Luke Brown got the start for Hoptown and tried to make it a repeat performance of his first start of the postseason. And despite a strong showing, wasn’t able to pick up the win.
“It was a pitcher’s duel for sure,” Hoptown coach Keirce Kimbel said. “Luke pitched his butt off. He gave us a chance to win and he did everything he could. The one inning was definitely the dagger for us, couldn’t come back from that. I don’t know we just couldn’t figure out their starter and I really don’t know why, his stuff wasn’t particularly all that great but he was just throwing strikes and I don’t know, we just couldn’t figure him out.”
Dubois County’s Caleb Wagner earned the win despite three walks and only four strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings pitched.
Kimbel said one inning hurt his team’s chances and it turned out to be the bottom of the fifth.
He said with Brown’s performance on the mound, the defense has to be strong behind them.
“It was huge out of him,” Kimbel said. “When you’ve got a pitching duel like that with a really low scoring game, it’s really important that we don’t have any big mishaps on defense and obviously we had the overthrow, then the ball that got passed Nolen (Milton).”
“It’s very important when you have those close ballgames, low scoring games that you play really good defense and we did for the most part. One mistake.”
The Bombers plated three in the bottom of the frame to take a 3-0 lead until the Hoppers were able to plate a run in the top of the seventh.
Reese Alexiades had a one-out double then scored on a Griffin Rivers single to cut the deficit to 3-1.
In the top of the eighth, the Hoppers managed to get the bases loaded with two outs but Alexiades grounded out to end the threat.
Hoptown and Dubois County each finished the game with seven runners left on base.
“In the eighth inning, we did have the bases loaded with two outs,” Kimbel said. “Like I said, two-out hits win ballgames. We just weren’t able to get that hit and you can’t expect to get it every time. We had a couple opportunities where we could have put more runs on the board and made it more of a ballgame. We just didn’t get the hit when we needed it.”
The Bombers added one more in the bottom of the eighth to take a 4-1 lead heading to the ninth.
After getting the first two runners in the inning on base, Cody Cooper struck out then Daryl Myers grounded out to score Rivers, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Hoppers fell 4-2.
Rivers finished the game with two hits, a run and an RBI.
With the loss, the Hoppers now face a potentially season-ending game at 7 p.m. tonight at Hopkinsville High School.
The Hoppers will throw OVL wins leader Dustin Berrong in the do-or-die game two.
“We’ll live or die with our best,” Kimbel said.
Admission to the game is $1 and Kimbel said he knows how important playing at home is in a pivotal game.
“We’re definitely going to have to swing it and play good defense,” he said. “Dustin’s going to just have to keep doing what he’s been doing all summer, coming in and giving us a chance.”
The Hoppers are also wanting fans to wear red as a part of a Red Out promotion.
REACH TYLER DIXON at 270-887-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.