PREP BASEBALL: Central squeaks past John Hardin (5/20)

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Three Bruins combine for no-hitter

By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES cjones@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN — The Central Hardin Bruins won their 17th District Baseball Tournament semifinal showdown with the John Hardin Bulldogs, but they might have lost a vital member of their pitching staff Tuesday night. Seniors Anthony Thorn and Cody Alvey and junior Ryne Brashear combined on a no-hitter to top John Hardin senior left-hander Tyler Burnett and the Bulldogs, 2-0 at Panther Baseball Park. The victory earned Central Hardin a spot in the 5th Region Tournament for the third consecutive year and the fourth time in the last five years. The Bruins won the region tournament last season for the first time in the program’s history. “It’s indescribable,” said Alvey, who pitched the final two innings to notch his first save of the season. In the process, the Bruins (24-7) set the school record for wins, breaking the mark the 2007 squad set. “I didn’t know how good this felt until now,” Central Hardin sophomore Taylor Wilson said of securing a region berth. “You’ve got to experience it to know. Hopefully, we can continue the success of last year.” But the celebration was subdued after Thorn left the game with an injury to his right elbow in the fifth inning. According to Thorn, after throwing a pitch to Burnett, he felt a pop in his elbow and his fingers began to tingle. Thorn walked to the right side of the mound, shaking his right hand and then signaled to the dugout. Central Hardin coach Todd Thompson and trainer Scott Rouse rushed to the mound. Thorn had been battling tendinitis in his elbow, but he was cleared to play. Thompson said Thorn threw Monday and felt no pain. Thorn threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing only two walks and striking out seven. Thompson said Thorn’s status is for the rest of the postseason is unknown as he will be re-evaluated today. “I love Anthony to death and maybe I put too much pressure on him,” Thompson said. “After throwing yesterday, I saw him smile for the first time in a week. His eyes lit up and I said, ‘There’s the old Anthony right there.’” With two outs in the fifth, Thompson turned to junior Ryne Brashear, who threw one pitch to Burnett, who had a 3-2 count, to end the inning. “That was clutch,” Thompson said. Alvey threw the final two innings, walking two and hitting a batter, while striking out four. “There’s so many things running through your mind,” Alvey said. “You don’t know how bad Anthony’s hurt. It was really upsetting. Anthony pitched a heck of a game with the tendinitis and the pain. He’s the one that got us here.” Central Hardin’s no-hitter overshadowed an outstanding pitching performance from Burnett. He limited the Bruins to just three hits and two walks. He struck out four in the hard-luck loss. “I feel like I did my job, but I feel I cheated myself,” Burnett said. “It should have been a double no-hitter. I was pegging the outside corner with my curveball and hitting my spots with my fastball. What else can you do? You can’t pitch much better.” The Bulldogs, who finished the season with a 13-13 record, played solid defense behind him. Junior center fielder Josh Braden made a catch against the wall in the first inning and junior shortstop Austin Oldham made a diving catch in the second. The problem was the Bulldogs could never get their bats going. John Hardin only had six base runners and just one – Oldham in the sixth – reached second base. “We threw well and we played tremendous defense,” John Hardin coach Adam Lindsey said. “We just didn’t put the stick on the ball. “Central Hardin has been riding their pitching and they had the same MO tonight,” he added. “My hat’s off to them. They beat us tonight.” After Burnett retired the first eight batters, senior Houston Howlett grounded a single up the middle and senior Kyle Nichols followed with a double off the left-field fence to score Howlett. “I was looking for a fastball,” Nichols said. “He threw me a bunch of off-speed pitches the first time. But I sat back on one and it worked out for me.” The Bruins added an insurance run in the sixth. Sophomore Ryan Squires reached on an infield single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Wilson laid down a bunt along the first base line to bring in Squires. “We worked on it yesterday and I felt confident,” Wilson said. “Once I did it, it felt great.” Central HARDIN 2, John hardin 0                                                 R H E John Hardin             000   000 0 0 0 0 Central Hardin          001   001   x 2 3 0 Tyler Burnett and Alex Dingle. Anthony Thorn, Ryne Brashear (5), Cody Alvey (6) and Russ Morse. WP: Thorn (7-1). LP: Burnett (4-4). S: Alvey (1). 2B: Kyle Nichols (CH). Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759