MIND YOUR MANERS/BGHS left-hander guides Purples into 14th title game; Gators finish season at 21-8


The Bowling Green High School baseball team had pretty much punched its ticket to next week’s KHSAA 4th Region Tournament.

The Purples were three outs away from eliminating Greenwood High School, and BGHS senior left-hander Dillon Maners was clearly favoring his left hamstring, injured in last week’s impressive tune-up game, a 10-6 victory over a talented Warren East squad.

All that was left was finishing the task at hand.

The Purples’ P.J. Henderson, a senior right-hander who has handled several roles in his BGHS career, had warmed up in the bullpen. He would have been ready to go, if needed.

BGHS coach Nate Isenberg decided it would be Maners’ decision.

He wasn’t surprised by the southpaw’s answer.

“It was my game,” Maners said in a matter-of-fact tone after Bowling Green eliminated Greenwood 7-3 in the first KHSAA 14th District Tournament semifinal on Monday evening at Warren Central High School. “Running bothered me a little bit, but everything else was good.

“I was ready to get back out there.”

So ready, in fact, that Maners was the first BGHS player to take the field, after Greenwood reliever Easton Talley had retired the side in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Isenberg had to like what he saw from the Purples’ ace, when the stakes were at their highest.

“Dillon approached me in the dugout,” Isenberg said when it was over. “I told him, ‘It’s your game.’ We just wanted to have someone ready, in case he had a knee lock, on the mound, or something else out there. P.J. Henderson has done a great job for us, so we wanted to have him ready.

“Survive and advance. We’re excited about playing (Tuesday) for the district championship.”

And that’s what the Purples (19-11 overall) will be doing, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, against No. 1 seed South Warren High School. The Spartans (23-8) had little trouble with a young Warren Central squad, stopping the Dragons 18-0 in a game shortened by the KHSAA’s run-rule guidelines.

In 14th District softball, played across the Warren Central baseball/softball complex at the Lady Dragons’ digs, No. 1 seed South Warren rolled to a 15-0 victory over Warren Central, while crosstown rival Greenwood High School also won by the same score, eliminating Bowling Green 15-0 in five innings.

Both squads both advance to next week’s KHSAA 4th Region Tournament, to unfold at WKU’s Softball Complex, but they’ll get a day off before tangling in the 14th District championship game, scheduled for Wednesday. First pitch is at 6 p.m.


Dillon Maners did a little bit of everything in leading the Purples to their critical victory over Greenwood, which had been one of the 4th Region’s top-flight teams for the entire season.

Maners had two hits and helped forced the Gators to play bunt defense in the first inning, something Greenwood coach Jason Jaggers’ squad failed to do in warm, sunny conditions at Warren Central.

Drew Isenberg, the Purples’ leadoff hitter, drew a walk from Greenwood starter Brandon Marks in the bottom of the first inning. Maners put down a bunt in front of home plate, and the Gators were ready to make the play, but Marks’ throw to first base was off the mark, leaving two men on base with no outs in the first.

That’s when the wheels came off the Greenwood wagon.

Bowling Green’s Grayson Newman bunted, too, and Gators third baseman James Russell charged in from the left side. Russell’s throw to first skipped into right field, scoring Drew Isenberg, and the Purples had a 1-0 lead and two base runners in scoring position.

Jaggers met briefly with the Gators’ infield before returning to the Greenwood dugout, but it would get worse.

BGHS slugger Ethan Madison took a called third strike from Marks, but Dom Davis put down a swinging bunt to the left side, and Russell’s high throw turned out to be the Gators’ third error of the inning. Senior outfielder Joseph Meyer, the Purples’ courtesy runner for Maners, and Newman scored on the play, and suddenly it was 3-0.

BGHS second baseman Luke Idlett came through with an RBI ground ball, and the Purples somehow had a 4-0 lead without collecting a single hit.

The Gators were in a huge hole, and they were facing a seasoned pitcher in BGHS senior left-hander Dillon Maners.

“We’ve had very good bunt defense all year long,” Greenwood coach Jason Jaggers said. “Tonight, it didn’t happen, and it cost us.”

Unfortunately for the Gators, it surfaced again in the bottom of the second inning.

Bowling Green’s Max Buchanon lined a pitch from Brandon Marks into right-center field for a leadoff double, and another error on Drew Isenberg’s bunt scored Buchanon from second base, extending the Purples’ lead to 5-0.

That’s when Dillon Maners lined an RBI single into right field, before Purples DH Ethan Madison crushed a pitch from Greenwood reliever Zach Davis for an RBI double off the center-field wall.

It was 7-0, and the Purples had only collected three hits at that point.

“Six unearned runs … you’re not going to win many baseball games that way,” Jaggers said.

All that was left was for Maners to keep the Gators at bay.

“It was all about feel, really,” Maners said. “Just make adjustments when you need to, and trust your defense.”

James Russell got the Gators back in the game with one swing of the bat in the top of the third.

Greenwood’s Chaze Huff and Andy Jolly opened the inning with back-to-back singles, and Russell turned on Maners’ first pitch for a three-run home run, a shot that sailed over the wall in left-center field.

It was 7-3, and the Gators still had four innings to work with.

Greenwood had base runners at first and second base with two outs in the fourth, but Maners induced a ground ball from the Gators’ Axel Dysholm to retire the side. Bowling Green had a couple errors themselves, but Maners battled through it before retiring the last nine batters he faced.

Maners finished with a four-hitter, striking out four batters while walking two. He earned his sixth victory in eight decisions, and he’ll likely be in left field or toiling as the Purples’ DH when Bowling Green squares off with South Warren in the championship game on Tuesday.

Greenwood’s Brandon Marks (4-2) took the loss, closing the door on the Gators’ season.

It left Jason Jaggers with mixed feelings about his team’s 21-8 season. The Gators split in a two-game series with Bowling Green just two weeks ago.

“I don’t know … I’ve got a lot to digest right now,” Jaggers said.

Either sophomore left-hander Drew Isenberg (0-4, 2.23 ERA) or senior right-hander P.J. Henderson (2-1, 2.43 ERA) are expected to be the Purples’ starting pitcher in the championship game against South Warren.


South Warren won for the eighth time in nine games, cruising to an 18-0 victory over homestanding Warren Central.

Sophomore right-hander Austin Allen went the distance on the mound for the Spartans, earning his third win of the season in as many decisions.

The Spartans scored eight runs in the first inning, at which point veteran South coach Chris Gage began to empty his bench. Gage expressed profound respect for first-year Warren Central coach Logan Bell after the game; Bell, a former WCHS catcher himself, inherited a squad that didn’t finish the 2022 season and pretty much had to start from scratch.

The Dragons finished the season 0-22, and they were shut out in seven of their final eight games. Even then, Bell’s team showed spirit, as well as sportsmanship, in the immediate aftermath of their final defeat.

Steven Hyde, a third baseman/pitcher, was the lone senior on the WCHS roster when the Dragons’ season came to a close.

“We started off with five or six seniors, but most of them wanted to do something different after awhile,” Bell said. “Steven Hyde’s been a great example for our younger players. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, some trying times, but the fact that we were able to finish the season is a step in the right direction.

“These kids, they’re out there from 3 o’clock to almost 6, every day, at practice.”

South Warren and Bowling Green will advance to next week’s 4th Region tournament, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday night’s 14th District championship game, but South coach Chris Gage said the matchup with the Purples is significant.

“We tried to develop some depth in this game,” Gage said. “Austin Allen did a good job on the mound. Your (regional) draw is your draw, but you usually improve your chances (by winning the title game).”

Senior right-hander Dalton Sisson (4-0, 1.34 ERA) is expected to get the start for the Spartans in Tuesday’s championship game against Bowling Green. Sisson worked six strong innings in South’s 9-6 victory over Bowling Green on April 18, helping the Spartans gain a split in the series.


Greenwood needed just five innings to eliminate Bowling Green, 15-0, in the first game of the KHSAA 14th District championship game at Warren Central High School.

South Warren’s Kendall Willingham hurled a no-hitter in the second semifinal, sending the Spartans to an impressive 15-0 victory over Warren Central in the second semifinal.

Several of the Spartans’ players watched their baseball counterparts take care of business against Warren Central themselves, once the South Warren softball team had advanced. So, too, did South Warren head coach Kelly Reynolds, the mother of of Spartans pitcher/infielder Ethan Reynolds.

Four South Warren players — McLaine Hudson, Jenna Lindsey, Briley Pruitt and Kinleigh Russell — all finished with two hits. Pruitt led the Spartans with four RBI.

Freshman right-hander Layla Ogden (11-2, 1.48 ERA) is expected to be the Spartans’ starting pitcher on Greenwood, while Gators coach Rodney Bush is likely to start senior ace Kayden Murray (9-2, 1.24 ERA).

South Warren swept Greenwood in their regular-season series, winning the first game, 6-5, in 13 innings before cruising to a 6-0 victory in the second game.