Pitching staffs get shorter as the game schedule gets more widely spaced during the baseball postseason, so Wednesday's regular-season finale at Woodford Connty might have been the final appearance of Brett Blair's career for Scott County.
If that's the case, the senior — bound for Morehead State University on a full academic scholarship in the fall — went out in scintillating style.
Making his second spot start of recent vintage, Blair allowed only three hits and one walk over six innings. He picked up the win without allowing an earned run in SC's 3-1 triumph at Falling Springs Park.
Blair helped construct both bookends in the current eight-game winning streak for Scott County (22-10). In his previous start a dozen days earlier, the right-hander also avoided giving up an earned run over three innings as SC clipped Corbin to halt a five-game skid.
Scott County now pursues its fourth consecutive 42nd District championship, beginning Sunday afternoon with a semifinal and 11th Region play-in game against Saturday's Bryan Station-Sayre winner at Henry Clay.
WC’s Spencer Nauert was outstanding on the hill for the Yellow Jackets (23-9), as well. He scattered four hits and gave up three runs, two earned, over 5 2/3 innings.
Nauert matched Blair's effectiveness until the top of the sixth, when SC broke a 1-1 tie and scratched out its two-run advantage.
Preston Rankin's bunt single started the rally. Woodford catcher Charlie Corum threw out Rankin attempting to steal second base, but Trent Fox replaced him with a walk.
Kyle Harbison then singled to right field, followed by another base on balls from Trace Willhoite to end Nauert's evening.
Cade McKee greeted Noah Pictor with a fly ball that was mishandled, allowing the go-ahead run to race home. Sam Daniel scratched out a walk and forced home the insurance tally.
Blair backed it up by retiring the heart of the Yellow Jackets' lineup — flies to McKee by Corum and Skyler Johnson, sandwiched around a strikeout of Griff Blankenship. He retired the final seven jackets he faced.
Willhoite worked the seventh to nail down the save. Brayden Goins singled with two out, followed by a walk from Pictor to out the tying run aboard, but Willhoite coaxed an R.J. McNealy ground ball to shortstop Trent Fox for the finishing flip to second.
SC's Harbison (2-for-4) and Leo Guadagni of Woodford County (2-for-3) were the only repeat hitters.
McKee's RBI single gave SC a 1-0 lead out of the gate. Harbison fueled that opening frane with a one-out double.
Woodford County, which won at extra-inning game at Sutton Field back in March, pulled even in the second when Guadagni singled, stole second and scored on a botched pick-off attempt.
Rankin's well-timed bunt in the sixth ended a streak of 13 consecutive Cardinals retired by Nauert.
Blair stranded five Yellow Jackets on base prior to his closing flourish.
Scott County enters the postseason with 20 or more wins for the seventh consecutive season.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.