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St. Xavier stops Campbell County one game short of championship in KHSAA state baseball final

By Evan Merrill
NKy Tribune sports reporter

The Campbell County baseball team’s impressive playoff run ended Saturday with a 1-0 loss to perennial power Louisville St. Xavier in the KHSAA championship game at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington.

Appearing in the first state title game in program history, Campbell County had the tying run on third base when St. Xavier pitcher Conner Holden got the final out to win his team’s seventh state title.

Campbell County baseball

Campbell County third baseman Dawson Hogan puts the tag on a St. Xavier base runner during the state championship game. (Photo by Jackson Sports Photography)

“I can definitely smile from what these kids did,” Campbell County coach Scott Schweitzer said after the game. “That’s the first runner-up trophy that I’ll ever gladly take back to school with me, you know. St. X was great (Saturday) and I thought we were great. They were just a little better. So I can walk away with my head high, knowing we did everything we could as coaches and players to win a state championship. It was an awesome experience, and expect to see us back.”

Campbell County pitcher Colton Hartig gave up one run on five hits. His lone mistake came in the third inning when Casey Simon hit a solo home run for the Tigers. The Camels were limited to three hits and failed to score for only the second time this season.

“I just told them no one expected us to be here and these guys proved a lot of people wrong about who they were, what they did,” coach Schweitzer said. “They approached the game the right way. Our bench was awesome. They were selfless. They had a blast throughout the entire thing. They kept us loose and kept us with the ability to play like we played.”

In the first inning, Campbell County had bases loaded with one out when Carson Plessinger hit into a double play. After getting only one hit in the next five innings, the Camels had a runner on third when Holden stuck out Joe Eblin to end the game

“Any high school kid, they always think about what they did last,” Schweitzer said. “But you’ve got to look to the first two games and (Eblin) had six RBIs and two big doubles for us, and really kind of put us in a spot to be here. Without his at bats in the first two games, we may not be playing in the state championship.”

The Camels, who weren’t ranked among the top 20 in the state entering the playoffs, proved their place among the elite teams in Kentucky. The three Campbell County players named to the state all-tournament team were pitcher Alex Franzen, second baseman Conner Walsh and catcher Matt Reynolds.

“I’m just absolutely astounded as to how they came together as team,” Schweitzer said. “And they proved that the chemistry of a team can be what makes you have a chance to win a state championship.”

St. Xavier became the first Kentucky high school baseball team to win seven state titles. The Tigers did it with the No. 3 pitcher in their rotation. Holden hadn’t been on the mound since the district tournament.

The top two pitchers on the St. Xavier roster were recruited by the University of Louisville and several other players have signed with other colleges. Franzen is the only Campbell County player who will play in college, according to coach Schweitzer.

“I have one guy that’s going to college to play baseball and a group of six others who are probably good enough to do it too,” Schweitzer said of his seniors. “But they’re moving on to different things in life and I’m just so proud they established this to look back on. This is the glory days for them and they have an awesome one to remember, something that no one else at Campbell County can say they did.”

This is the third consecutive year that a Northern Kentucky baseball team has reached the state final. West Jessamine defeated Highlands in last year’s championship game and St. Xavier defeated Simon Kenton in the 2014 final.

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