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By GOOSE LINDSAY
After winning the District 8 AA title with relative ease, the Kingston AA All-Stars received a major challenge Monday afternoon in the opening round of the Dixie Youth AA State Tournament as the Jackets needed a two-out RBI single from Tyler Thurman to drive in Austin Key with the winning run in an exciting 14-13 victory over Hickman County.
Monday’s game was full of highs and lows for Kingston players, coaches and fans as neither team was able to take control.
Hickman County started out on fire Monday as they scored five runs in the top of the first inning.
Kingston, however, responded with the maximum of seven runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 7-5 lead.
The Jackets pounded out 10 hits (all singles) in the inning as Gabe Shillings, Austin Key, Brandon Plemens, Jack Emch, Thurman, Wade Gargen, Jimmy Vanosdale, Connor Bassler, Benji Headrick and Tanner Poole all had hits for the Jackets in the opening frame.
Both defenses settled down and started to take control in the second inning. Hickman County failed to score in the frame while Kingston used four hits to score two more runs in taking a 9-5 lead.
Shillings and Key opened the inning with back-to-back hits and both would score. Plemens and Thurman also had hits in the frame for the Jackets.
Both teams scored a single run in the third inning to leave the Jackets on top, 10-6.
Matthew Coffey reached on a fielder’s choice and scored Kingston’s run in the bottom of the third inning.
Kingston’s lead evaporated quickly in the fourth inning as Hickman County opened the inning with seven runs to take a 13-10 lead.
The Jackets closed to within 13-12 by the end of the inning as Key, Plemens, Jonathan Longmire and Thurman all having hits with Key and Plemens scoring the runs.
Kingston’s defense would save the day in the final two innings as Hickman County would not score again.
Kingston tied the game in the fifth inning as Coffey singled before scoring on a double from Bassler.
The bottom of the inning opened Key and Plemens pounding out back-to-back singles before Hickman County recorded a pair of outs to leave runners on second and third with Thurman stepping to the dish.
Thurman responded with a soft liner to short that just stayed out of the reach of the Hickman County fielder to give the Jackets the win.
Kingston had a solid day at the plate as the Jackets pounded out 27 hits.
Shillings (2-4, 2 runs), Key (4-4, 4 runs), Plemens (4-4, 2 runs), Thurman (4-4, 1 run), Vanosdale (2-3, 1 run), Bassler (3-3) and Poole (3-3) all had multiple hits on the day for the Jackets.
Monday’s victory means the Jackets will live to fight at least two more days in Red Bank. Kingston played a second round winner’s bracket game on Tuesday and they will play again on Wednesday no matter what the outcome of Tuesday’s contest.