Keys claimed its first district championship since 2017 after defeating Prague, 9-8, Saturday in Park Hill.
The Cougars, who improved to 14-8 under head coach Nick Zodrow, rallied from three runs down with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, securing the win on a two-run single by Lane Taylor.
Keys advances to the Class 3A Kellyville Regional Tournament as a No. 3 seed and will face second-seeded Kellyville at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6. Top-seeded Holland Hall plays No. 4 seed Morris in the tournament opener at 11 a.m.
Taylor’s clutch hit, which came on an 0-2 offer from Prague reliever Cade Anderson, was one of just four by the Cougars on Saturday. He went to center field and brought home Reed Trimble for the game-tying run and Rhett Walker for the winning run. Taylor went down on strikes three times in previous at-bats.
The seventh inning started with a Grant Stricker groundout to first base. After Colton Combs walked on a 3-2 pitch, Logan Little was retired on a pop out. The table was set after Drew Morgans, Trimble and Walker each reached bases on walks. Walker’s free pass pushed across Combs to get Keys to within 8-6, and Cooper Hamilton was hit by a pitch to force in Morgans prior to Taylor’s heroics.
The Cougars defeated Prague, 5-1, in the bi-district tournament opener on Friday, but the Red Devils bounced back with a 15-11 win in Game 2 to force a third game on Saturday.
Keys was in a big hole from the start Saturday and trailed 7-0 before chipping away.
The Cougars scored three times in the third. Trimble led off with a walk, stole second base and later crossed home plate when Walker put down a bunt and got aboard on an error. Bronc Quetone scored Walker on an RBI infield single to make it 7-2, and Hamilton stole home with two outs for the third run.
Keys continued to nibble away in the sixth, closing to within 8-5 on a pair of balks by Prague reliever Eli Greenlee that allowed Trimble and Hamilton to score. Greenlee balked three times in the inning.
Quetone earned the win in four innings for relief. Quetone didn’t allow a run on four hits and recorded one strikeout while issuing two walks. In a starting role, Hamilton gave up eight runs, three of which were earned, on three hits. Hamilton had one strikeout and walked four.
Little and Walker each added singles for the Cougars, who left nine runners on base.
Prague’s Kyler Kinslow had the only multi-hit performance of the game, going 2 for 4 with a run scored.
Anderson, who took the loss on the mound, faced three batters in the seventh. Red Devil pitchers combined for nine strikeouts but issued 10 walks.
Trimble and Quetone lifted Keys in the tournament opener.
Trimble went the distance on the mound, allowing just one unearned run on four hits. He had five strikeouts and issued six walks.
Quetone had one of Keys’ three hits and drove in a pair of runs.
In the Game 2 loss, the Cougars had five hits and committed six errors. Grant Stricker led with two hits, Walker knocked in a team-high three runs and had a triple, and Quetone went 1 for 4 with a pair of RBIs.