TROJANS’ YOUTH IS SERVED/Barren County upsets No. 1 seed Warren East, 4-2, in KHSAA 15th District title game


GLASGOW — Warren East High School’s Wyatt Nesbitt was one of the last players to leave the dugout at Trojan Field on Thursday night.

Try as they might, the Raiders couldn’t overcome Barren County’s fast start, and some misfortune their way, in the delayed KHSAA 15th District championship game on the Trojans’ home turf.

Check that.

Try as they did.

“We didn’t allow them to get the momentum back,” Barren County coach Derrick Alfonso said after his squad stunned No. 1 seed Warren East, 4-2, on an overcast evening on the Trojans’ home turf.

“It’s on us, as coaches. Our kids played hard,” veteran East coach Wes Sanford said after meeting with his players. “We still have to beat good teams to win the 4th Region. But we don’t get a home game …”

“Offensively, we’ve been struggling.”

Nesbitt, one of nine seniors on the Raiders’ roster, seemed to be taking the defeat personally. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Nesbitt started behind the plate, moved to the pitcher’s mound in the third inning, kept his team in the game and returned to his normal duties as East’s everyday catcher, all in a span of 2.5 hours.

The tournament was delayed after thunderstorms in Glasgow on Tuesday, and the Trojans defeated archrival Glasgow High School 2-0 on Wednesday, eliminating the Scotties from the KHSAA playoffs on their way to the showdown with Warren East.

Nesbitt didn’t mince words, after it was over.

“It’s definitely a kick in the face,” he said. “What we did last year (as the 4th Region runner-up) doesn’t mean anything now.”

Sanford did his best to stay upbeat. It wasn’t easy.

“They made every play (defensively),” Sanford said. “They just beat us, to tell you the truth.”

The Raiders dropped to 25-8 on the season, and they still have the 4th Region’s leading RPI (.629). It was a a major breakthrough for Barren County, which won its first KHSAA 15th District title since 2018.

The Trojans, a young squad with just two seniors, still have a losing record (13-17), but they’ll have a home game when the KHSAA 4th Region Tournament unfolds on Monday night.

“If we pitch and play defense, like we have the last two days, we can play with anybody,” said first-year Barren County coach Derrick Alfonso, a former catcher at Warren Central High School who went on to play at the University of Louisville and in professional baseball.

The Trojans used three pitchers — starter Brayden Brown (two innings), reliever Joey Meyers (one inning) and tall, slender freshman Skylar Potter, who limited Warren East to just one hit in the final four innings — to avenge a two-game sweep at the hands of the Raiders in regular-season play.

(Barren County was outscored 18-6 in those two games.)

Warren East, the home team based on its No. 1 seeding, had a disastrous first inning against Brayden Brown, the Trojans’ senior right-hander.

Warren East’s Ayden Barrick lined a one-out double to left-center field, bringing teammate Braylen Lee to the plate. Lee followed suit with a double of his own, but a base running error allowed the Trojans to retire both Barrick and Lee, in the blink or two of the eye, and the Trojans remained in front 1-0.

Then, Barren County put a 2-spot on the scoreboard, in the top of the second inning, grabbing a 3-0 lead.

Brenden Bratcher, the Raiders’ starting pitcher, then walked Hayes Atkinson, the final batter in the BCHS lineup, to open the inning. Trojans center fielder Sutton Hyde was hit by a pitch, and teammate J.P. Hyde lofted a pop fly into no man’s land — shallow left-center field — with three Raiders closing in on the ball before Atkinson scored from second base.

Then, Sutton Hyde advanced on a stolen base to third, and J.P. Hyde initiated a delayed double steal after Braxton Jenkins couldn’t get a bunt down, and the ball again got away from Nesbitt behind the plate for a wild pitch.

A moment of indecision allowed Sutton Hyde to score, extending the Trojans’ lead to 3-0, and Warren East was clearly struggling, defensively.

“That never should have happened. That’s on me,” Warren East coach Wes Sanford said.

The Raiders showed signs of life in the bottom of the third, however, when Colton Edwards lined a two-run single to right field, pulling Warren East to within a single run.

The Raiders wouldn’t get another base runner to third until the seventh inning.

Sanford’s squad would get a break in the top of the third.

Jackson Reece lined a double to the left-field corner, giving the Trojans two base runners in scoring position, at which point Wyatt Nesbitt shed his catcher’s equipment to take the mound.

(East’s Drake Young moved from third base to catcher with the pitching change.)

The Trojans’ Aiden Kinney couldn’t check his swing on a called third strike, but Young momentarily lost control of the ball, and Gavin McCord barreled in from third base.

Warren East coach Wes Shaver immediately challenged the play, and after a lengthy delay, and two meetings among the umpires, Kinney was ruled to have interfered on the play. Nesbitt would slip a called third strike past the Trojans’ Hayes Atkinson, and the Raiders still trailed by just one run.

Barren County would add a single run in the fourth, on alert base running by Trojans shortstop J.P. Hyde. Hyde, a sophomore and the brother of Trojans outfielder Sutton Hyde, also made a couple deft defensive plays, keeping the Raiders at arm’s length down the stretch.

“I feel like I’ve got the best shortstop in the 4th Region,” BCHS coach Derrick Alfonso said. “I know other coaches will feel the same way, about their guys … but I wouldn’t trade J.P. for anybody.”

Ultimately, it was a sobering night for the Raiders.

Wyatt Nesbitt, the Warren East catcher, believes it’s time to get back on the practice field. The Raiders will learn of their quarterfinal opponent in a 4th Region draw at the Warren East cafeteria on Saturday morning.

“We just have to stay focused,” Nesbitt said. “We need to get that drive back.”