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PREP BASEBALL: E'town tops North in 8 (5/21)

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Bouthilettes lead Panthers to 1-0 win

By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES cjones@thenewsenterprise.com CECILIA — Elizabethtown coach Don Pitts was having a bad case of déjà vu Tuesday afternoon. The reason for it was the last time the 17th District Tournament was held at Central Hardin High School, the Panthers, who were the top seed, lost to Meade County in the 2003 semifinals. Fast forward to Tuesday, the Panthers, the No. 1 seed, found themselves in a tough battle with the fifth-seeded North Hardin Trojans. Just as the case was against Meade County, they had plenty of scoring chances, but left 11 runners on base, including eight in scoring position, through seven innings. “I didn’t know where it was, but I was definitely having flashbacks to that Meade County game,” said Pitts, who was an assistant that season. “It was eerily similar. We had a lot of opportunities to score and couldn’t seem to get a run in.” That was until the bottom of the eighth, when freshman Beau Bouthilette came around to score after a North Hardin error as the Panthers pulled out a 1-0 victory over the Trojans in the district semifinals. “It was real frustrating,” Bouthilette said. “We’ve been working on that all year long, taking advantage of scoring opportunities, and we couldn’t seem to claw through until the end.” With the win, the Panthers (25-9) advance to next week’s 5th Region Tournament at Marion County High School. But they have their sights set on winning their second consecutive district championship. Elizabethtown plays Central Hardin at 5:30 today. “Tonight’s win was just huge,” Elizabethtown senior Sean Bouthilette said. “Our first goal was making sure we won tonight to get to region, and next we want to win district.” North Hardin, which finished the season 6-28, played one of its best games of the season, only to come up a run shy. “It’s always a tough game when we play North Hardin in the postseason,” Sean Bouthilette said. “We were not looking down on them. I know there are some guys who probably expected us to be up more, but North Hardin’s a good team and they played really well. You have to give them credit.” The game turned into a pitchers’ duel between North Hardin junior Levi Duncan and Sean Bouthilette. Duncan took the hard-luck loss. He allowed 10 hits, two walks and one unearned run, while striking out six. Duncan worked out of two bases-loaded jams, keeping Elizabethtown off-balance the entire game. “Sometimes, and we don’t do this enough, you have to give credit to who is on the mound,” Pitts said. “He was mixing his pitches up and changing his locations. He was on today. … This game was like that one against Meade County, but the difference was we had Sean Bouthilette this time.” Sean Bouthilette was his usual dominating self, improving to 4-0 in district tournament starts. He struck out 14 in eight innings and limited the Trojans to three hits and three walks. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on, retiring the last 11 hitters he faced and 16 of the last 17. “I felt like I was throwing harder at the end of the game than I was early,” he said. “I got in a little groove later in the game. I just felt more comfortable.” In the bottom of the eighth, Beau Bouthilette, who went 3-for-4 with a stolen base, singled to center field to start the inning. Senior Ryan Lutz popped up the sacrifice bunt attempt and Duncan just missed making a diving catch. The ball kicked into foul territory, where senior catcher Ethan Hughes picked it up and fired to first base. The ball went off the glove of eighth-grade first baseman Andrew Boyles and down the right-field line, allowing Beau Bouthilette to score. “I had no idea where the ball was,” Beau Bouthilette said. “I thought he caught it at first, and then when he didn’t, I thought I’d better go. I saw him waving me around. I wasn’t stopping unless he made me stop.” Elizabethtown sophomore Jake Goodman had the game’s lone extra-base hit – a double in the sixth inning. Eight of the nine batters in Elizabethtown’s lineup had at least one hit. Besides his pitching, Duncan had two of North Hardin’s three hits. The Trojans left five base runners stranded. ELIZABETHTOWN 1, North Hardin 0                                         R     H   E North Hardin     000 000 00   0     3   2 Elizabethtown   000 000 01   1   10   0 Levi Duncan and Ethan Hughes. Sean Bouthilette and Micheal Thomas. WP: Bouthilette. LP: Duncan. 2B: Jake Goodman (E). Chuck Jones can be reached

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