No longer rivals on the football field, the Kenton Ridge-Northeastern baseball game has taken over as the district’s annual bragging rights contest.
The Cougars and Jets play in some other sports, including golf, Kenton Ridge senior Chase Marrs said. But the rivalry on the links can’t compare to the intensity of the baseball diamond.
“It’s nothing like this at all,” Marrs said.
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Since taking over the program 2007, Kenton Ridge head coach Aaron Shaffer has never lost to the Jets.
But the Cougars needed late-inning heroics to take down their district neighbors 4-3 on Wednesday at Tom Randall Field.
The host Cougars trailed 3-2 entering the seventh inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Marrs ripped a double to right centerfield, bringing home two runs to give his team a 4-3 victory.
“I was just trying to find a pitch I could drive, I found one right down the middle. It feels great to comeback (against Northeastern). This was a big win for us.”
Kenton Ridge senior Matt Tateman pitched into the seventh inning, allowing six hits and striking out five.
“He did an excellent job,” Shaffer said. “We expected him to go four and he went the entire seven innings. He was around the plate. We hung in there.”
Marrs went 2-for-4 with two doubles, while senior Chris Lyle went 3-for-4 with a double as Kenton Ridge improved to 2-0.
Michael Wilson and Garrett Peters each had two hits as Northeastern fell to 0-2 overall. The Jets tied the game with a run in the third inning, the took a 3-1 lead with two runs in the fifth.
“We played pretty well,” said Jets coach Will Nichols. “We had some issues with some errors that were costly. Three of the four runs they scored were from walks that ended up scoring. Anytime you walk guys, you’re putting yourself in a position for something for the other team to happen to be successful.”
The Cougars and Jets played what will likely be their last regular season football game in Week 1 of 2017. Last season, the two intra-district rivals played a jamboree game, the final tune-up for the regular season. The district’s athletic council decided the contest caused animosity amongst the two high schools, which are in different athletic conferences.
Nichols, a Northeastern grad, knows all about the importance of the rivalry.
“Whenever we played Kenton Ridge, we wanted to beat them,” Nichols said. “It’s the same process. You have to approach each game as being meaningful. You have to do the right things to win, do the simple things. It’s a rivalry, but it’s baseball.”
The Jets have lost two one-run games to start the season. They fell to Tecumseh 2-1 in their season opener.
“They got it done and we just didn’t finish,” Nichols said. “It’s early and we’ll get better. We showed some promise today.”
Kenton Ridge’s seniors kept the team focused late in the game, Shaffer said.
“It’s a credit to our older guys for keeping everybody in it,” he said. “We could’ve went 1-2-3 in that seventh. We got our leadoff guy on and before you know it the bases are loaded. We just gave ourselves a chance. That’s all you can do. We had the big hit in the end.”
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