GOTCHA!: Carroll County catcher Austin Dunn applies the tag to Anderson County’s Dustin Pickett during Tuesday’s Eighth Region baseball tourney semifinals at Henry County. Pickett was attempting to steal home on the play. Anderson won the game 5-1. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
GOTCHA!: Carroll County catcher Austin Dunn applies the tag to Anderson County’s Dustin Pickett during Tuesday’s Eighth Region baseball tourney semifinals at Henry County. Pickett was attempting to steal home on the play. Anderson won the game 5-1. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
NEW CASTLE, Ky. - Carroll County had plenty of chances to seize control of its Eighth Region semifinal matchup with Anderson County on Tuesday but the mistakes the Panthers made were simply too much to overcome.

Anderson scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie and pull away from Carroll for a 5-1 win in the regional held at Henry County High School.

The Bearcats, the 30th District runners-up, now advance to the championship game on Thursday where they will face either Collins or Simon Kenton. Simon Kenton was leading 5-1 in the top of the sixth when lightning forced postponment of that game until today.

Anderson made its share of mistakes in the game but none were as costly as the ones made by Carroll.

"We squandered some chances and we gave them some runs, that's for sure," Carroll County coach Jimmy Ray said. "One play doesn't decide a game one way or another but I told them if they blame anybody, blame me. I didn't show them the right way to do things I guess. It's very frustrating when you're that close."

Carroll (21-13) had a chance to blow the game open in the first inning. The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs against Anderson starter Brandon Eliadis but got only one run out of it when Kiefer McIntyre drove in Justin Ray with a groundout to third. Eliadis struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.

Anderson (17-13) tied the game in the second thanks in large part to a costly Carroll error. Brice Stockton drew a walk, stole second and went to third when catcher Austin Dunn's throw to second went into center field. Max Crabtree's groundout then scored Stockton from third.

Carroll's biggest mistakes came in the fourth, an inning that featured not one but two base-running mistakes that may have cost the Panthers the game.

McIntyre led off the inning with a single and Seth Hicks followed by reaching on an error that sent McIntyre to third.

With no outs, the Panthers attempted a safety squeeze but Austin Crowell failed to lay down the bunt. McIntyre was caught off third base and the Bearcats threw him out as he tried to scramble back.

On the very next pitch, Crowell again unsuccessfully attempted to bunt and Hicks was caught in no-man's land off first. Anderson easily threw him out at second. Crowell ended up walking but was forced at second to end the inning.

"We had the two base-running errors that killed us. We had the play at home with the infield drawn in but we didn't go home," Ray said. "We had two bunts we didn't get down. We just didn't execute and you can get away with that against some teams but against a team like Anderson County, a baseball powerhouse in the Eighth Region for some time, you just can't do that."

Anderson had its own base-running mistake in the fourth when Dustin Pickett attempted to steal home with two outs but pitcher John Michael Adams made a quick throw home and Dunn easily tagged Pickett out.

Anderson threatened again in the fifth but Adams, who was beginning to tire, gutted his way out of the inning by stranding runners at second and third.

Back on the mound in the sixth, Adams had no such luck.

Pickett led off the crucial sixth with a single and went to second when Adams' pick-off throw went wide and a bunt moved him to third.

The Panthers then intentionally walked Josh Brown to set up a double play but Brown foiled that by stealing second. Rather than walk another batter, Ray decided to bring the infield in to try cut down the runner at home.

The move should have worked. Stockton, the next batter, hit a hard shot right to shortstop where Crowell fielded the ball cleanly. But instead of going home right away, he looked to first base before throwing to Dunn at the plate and that hesitation cost the Panthers a run.

It was all downhill from there. Crabtree plated a second run with a groundout and, after Adams walked the next batter, Ray went to his bullpen. Lane Marquardt and Wesley Jorette greeted reliever Seth Hicks with back-to-back singles to plate two runs to push the lead to 5-1.

Adams singled to lead off the seventh but never moved from first base and the Panthers' stellar 2014 season came to an end.

Adams, who had won the district championship game with a stellar performance in relief, was the hard-luck loser. The senior took a no-hitter into the fourth and allowed only three hits in his five and one-third innings on the mound. He struck out three and walked five but only one of the four runs scored against him were earned.

"That was the best I've seen John pitch in a couple of years," Ray said. "He probably wasn't at full strength because he pitched on Friday but he pitched well. You can't knock his effort. He stepped up like he needed to and pitched a hell of a game. I hate it because we couldn't win it for him."

Carroll County out-hit Anderson 5-4 and there were no extra-base hits by either team. Justin Ray, Dunn, McIntyre, Boo Donahue and Adams each had hits for the Panthers.

Pickett was 2-for-3 with a run scored to lead Anderson.

Josh Brown won the game with two innings in relief of starter Eliadis. Brown took the mound after a leadoff walk to Zakk Hicks in the sixth and allowed only the one hit to Adams while striking out two and walking none.

Eliadis allowed one earned run on five hits in five-plus innings. He struck out five and walked three.

Carroll County's season ends after 21 wins, a North Central Kentucky Conference championship, All "A" Classic Eighth Region championship and 31st District championship. The Panthers lose six seniors: Adams, Crowell, Taylor Hill, McIntyre, Will Wallace and Jacob Wise.

"It's hurts because they are a great group of kids. This is the most fun I've ever had coaching," Ray said. "Everybody gets along great and it's been fun. I've told people all year our strength is our team chemistry. It's a great group to coach and I'm going to miss the six guys that are leaving. They're six great kids and they have a bright future. They're intelligent kids and I have plenty of respect for them. It's going to be hard to lose them."