FRANKLIN – Franklin-Simpson’s third try at walking off against Warren East was the charm.

After having runners in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings, Cole Wix came through with a walk-off single to give the Wildcats a 2-1 nine-inning victory over the Raiders on Saturday in a first-round Region 4 Tournament pitchers’ duel at Franklin-Simpson.

“That was one of the best high school games I’ve been a part of,” Franklin-Simpson coach Matthew Wilhite said. “We had chances and you’re like, ‘OK, let’s play defense, play defense,’ but then in the back of your head, ‘OK, is that going to be the one that’s going to break us where we didn’t get that guy in at that time.’

“Credit Dalton (Fiveash) and Dawson (Owens) the way they threw the ball and gave ourselves a chance. ... Cole hadn’t had a good day at the plate and had the big hit and that’s what you have to do – even when you’re not having your best day, you never know when it’s going to come to you. Just proud of the way the guys battled. That was a heck of a game by both teams.”

Even at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Franklin-Simpson (21-13) put runners on second and third with one out, but Warren East (23-15) starter Brady Dragoo recorded a strikeout and drew a deep fly out to right to escape the jam.

A walk, single and balk gave the Wildcats another chance with two runners in scoring position with nobody out in the eighth, but a strikeout and pop up retired the first two batters before Dragoo had to be replaced. Caiden Murrell came in to record the final out and keep the season alive.

In the ninth, a walk and single from Ben Banton put runners on second and third, after Banton took second without a challenge in the Wildcats’ next at bat. With two down, Wix delivered a single to right field to end the game 2-1.

“I just knew I was looking fastball first pitch and that’s what I got,” Wix said. “I had a rough day up until that point, but like coaches say, you’ve just got to flush that and go into the at bat, so I was going in there looking for fastball and I got it first pitch and I was able to do something with it.”

It came after a long pitchers’ duel between Dragoo and Franklin-Simpson’s Dalton Fiveash. Both allowed just two hits through their first seven innings pitched, and neither allowed one until the fourth inning.

Fiveash went seven innings in the victory with 10 strikeouts before being replaced by Dawson Owens, who retired all six batters he faced.

“It was a good feeling,” Fiveash said. “To work as hard as we did, not just this game but all year. Coming into this game, we know that they’re a good team and we’re going to have to battle to win. We went for nine innings and a total of three runs were scored. If that’s not a baseball game for you, then I don’t know what is.”

Dragoo went 7.2 innings, allowing three hits and four walks with 14 strikeouts. Murrell went 0.2 innings and Chase Carver pitched the remainder.

“Even the last pitch was a great pitch. We didn’t go down just giving it away,” Warren East coach Wes Sanford said. “That was a great pitch, got in on (Wix) and he just got the barrel through the zone long enough that he was able to get it over the shortstop’s head. Our kids played hard. We didn’t hit it great at all – obviously we faced really great pitching – but we prepared for that all week. I think we had a really good plan, we just weren’t able to find a hole. It’s hard to simulate the talent (Fiveash) has on the bump.

“ ... We did great defensively and on the mound. Brady Dragoo – oh my God, you can’t ask for anything more out that kid.”

Warren East broke through first by taking advantage of two walks in the top of the second and scoring when Drake Young stole second and Carver was able to beat a throw home after the play at second.

The Wildcats evened the game in the third by taking advantage of a walk and two errors.

The Wildcats advance to the Region 4 Tournament semifinals, where they will face Russell County at 7:45 p.m. Monday at Western Kentucky University’s Nick Denes Field.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.