LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky's Mr. Baseball, Drew Rom, pitched Highlands into the state baseball championship game Friday night.
McCracken County scored 30 runs in its first two tournament games, but Rom, the Baltimore Orioles' fourth-round draft pick, and reliever Grady Cramer held them mostly in check so the Bluebirds could advance with a 4-3 victory.
Highlands will face Louisville St. Xavier, the top-ranked team in the state and the No. 8 team in the nation, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
— Philip Lee (@PhilipRLee) June 16, 2018
The Bluebirds saw a 2-0 lead evaporate in the top of the fourth, but they rallied to take a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the inning, then withstood some tense moments in the seventh.
A walk and a fielding error by the Mustangs set the stage for an RBI single by Tyler Gulley to give Highlands an early 1-0 lead. The Bluebirds made it 2-0 when Carson Fitters draws a bases-loaded walk.
The Mustangs tied it in the fourth thanks to an RBI single and a error on a pickoff throw to first base.
Highlands answered with two runs on a single by Ethan Kavanagh and Bryce Ziegler's bouncer to the shortstop that led to an error.
In the seventh, McCracken County's Rook Ellington led off with a double off Rom. Rom got a groundout, then left the game because he had reached his pitch count.
A single off Cramer made it 4-3, but Cramer got the next two batters to pop up to end it.
The Bluebirds lost to St. Xavier, 4-3, in the only regular-season meeting between the teams.
Highlands, a multiple state champion in football and basketball, is gunning for its first baseball title. The Bluebirds lost West Jessamine, 10-3, in their previous finals trip in 2015.