The Park Hills Central Rebels had an incredible season in 2023, but they had an off day at the worst possible time. Matched up against the Potosi Trojans in the District Finals, the heavily favored Rebels were upset 10-8 this week, effectively ending their season.
As the number one seed, the Rebels got a first round bye, automatically putting them into the Semifinals, where they blanked the Herculaneum Blackcats 6-0 to earn a trip to the Finals. Unfortunately, the Trojans got the best of them by pouncing on some defensive miscues, and the Rebels will have to regroup and try again next year.
The game against Herky was a nice clean win, and Central didn’t waste any time getting ahead. Sammy Callaway dropped in an RBI single in the first to put them up 1-0 before Jaxon Jones brought in two more in the second to up the lead to 3-0.
Kendall Horton had an RBI single in the fourth and Ty Schweiss drove in a big insurance run with a double in the fifth. Callaway provided the cherry on top with an RBI base knock just two batters later and the Rebels had their 6-0 lead.
That lead would go unblemished, thanks to a dazzling performance by Horton on the mound. He tossed a complete game shutout and allowed just four hits and a walk against a trio of Ks. Schweiss, Kale Dreier and Callaway each had two hits in the game and provided the majority of the offense.
That set the stage for the District finale against Potosi. Central came out hot once again, plating a run in the first on a Casen Murphy RBI single. They managed to tack on two in the second when Jones sent one into left with two runners on and the left fielder couldn’t handle it, allowing both runs to score for a 3-0 lead.
Potosi was vigilant though, they got two runs back in the top of the third and then added two more in the fourth to take their first lead of the game, 4-3. However, the Rebels would answer with three of their own in the bottom of the frame. Jones worked a bases loaded walk, and then Murphy drove in two more with a bullet to center. That put Central back on top 6-4.
But the sixth inning would be an adventure. And not the fun kind. A pair of errors proved very costly and the Trojans pounced for six runs to go up 10-6. The Rebels tried to mount a comeback in the final inning, and were on their way with RBI hits from Horton and Lucas Whitehead, but the rally was cut short and they ultimately fell 10-8.
It was a rough game for the pitching staff, and it didn’t help that three of the runs were unearned, but Central did show some resolve making it close at the end. Schweiss had a nice game with three hits, and Jobe Bryant had a pair of his own. Murphy was the main offensive catalyst with two hits and three RBI.
Despite the loss, the Rebels really did have an incredible season. No one is going to scoff at a 19-4 record, and all of the games they did lose, they were right in it until the end. They had winning streaks of four, 10 and four games during the season and showed they could consistently produce timely offense to balance out their fantastic pitching.
The staff hurled an incredible 11 shutouts over the course of the season and only allowed more than three runs six times. A lot of that had to do with Murphy, who was virtually unhittable all year. In fact, he allowed just one earned run the entire season. He went 8-0 with a ridiculous 0.14 ERA, a .596 WHIP and batters hit just .084 against him while striking out 90 times in 47 innings.
He was backed up by Whitehead and Horton, who had truly impressive seasons of their own. Horton allowed just two eared runs all year for a sparkling 0.47 ERA and a 1.2 WHIP. He fanned 40 batters in 29.2 innings and picked up three wins and a pair of saves, while Whitehead went 6-0 and registered an ERA of 2.06 with a 1.20 WHIP. He struck out 39 in 40.2 innings.
Offensively, Murphy was a beast once again, leading the team in nearly every statistical category. He hit .407 with a 1.305 OPS, hit four homers, drove in 24 and stole 17 bases. Schweiss, Jones and Callaway had fine seasons as well. Here’s a glance at their numbers.
Schweiss: .379/.523/.455/.977, 33 RS, 5 2B, 17 SB
Jones: .343/.477/.486/.963, 18 RBI, 23 RS, 8 SB. 1 HR
Callaway: .299/.440/.433/.873, 24 RBI, 6 2B, 1 HR
All the Rebels made great contributions this season on the mound, in the field and at the plate. You don’t get to be 19-4 without everyone pitching in. It didn’t end the way they hoped, but it was an impressive campaign nonetheless.
Look for these Rebels to be locked and loaded when next season rolls around.