By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Coming into Monday night’s game against Corbin, South Laurel knew that a win would clinch the top seed in the 50th District tournament, while a loss meant the Cardinals would have to beat the Redhounds at Corbin Tuesday night, a scenario coach Wynn Harris wanted to avoid.
Thanks to strong pitching and defense, the Cardinals made sure they would clinch Monday night with a 3-0 win.
“Big win,” Harris said. “Going down there (Corbin) would have been tough to win.”
Austin Vigeant got the start for the Cardinals (14-3, 5-0), and while he might not have been as sharp as he or Harris wanted, he got the job done. In four innings of work, he allowed no runs on just one hit. He struck out two, walked two and hit two batters in picking up the win.
“Austin didn’t have his best game, but he competed,” Harris said. “He threw exceptionally well last week against Whitley County. Trey (Martin) threw two good innings, then Alex (Sears) came in and finished it.” The three pitchers combined to toss a one-hitter.
Corbin counted with Kevin Goins, who took the loss. He pitched a good game, but wasn’t helped by his defense, which committed four errors.
“They (Corbin) threw a good pitcher at us,” Harris said. “We took advantage of a couple of their mistakes.”
The first mistake came in the second inning when Martin opened things by reaching on an error. After Austin Moore and Matthew Slavey were retired, Zach Allen reached on another Redhound error, which allowed Martin to score for a 1-0 lead.
Two more errors in the bottom of the third led to South Laurel’s second run. With two outs, Sears, who finished the game 3-for-3, singled to center. Daniel Neal and Martin reached on back-to-back errors, the second one allowed Sears to score to make it 2-0.
South’s final run came in the fifth when Sears singled, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored on another passed ball. Good baserunning was another key in the win for the Cardinals.
“We take pride in our baserunning,” Harris said.
Defense was another strong point in South Laurel’s seventh straight win, as evident in the seventh inning, when Keaton Burton hit a grounder that third baseman Daniel Neal tried to make the play on, but the ball hit off his glove. Martin, playing shortstop, was alertly backing up the play, fielded the ball and threw to first for the out.
“We played good defense,” Harris said. “Trey keeping with the ball and making that play was evident of the way we played defense.”
The Cards, winners of seven in a row, came into the game averaging 11 runs per game during their win streak. While they didn’t get anywhere near that total Monday, they did put the ball in play enough to get the win.
“We didn’t hit it the way we had been,” Harris said. “We can hit, but pitching and defense carries us. We can’t rest on our defense.”
Both teams had chances to put runs on the board, as Corbin left six stranded while South stranded eight.
Corbin’s (11-9, 3-2) only hit came in the third when Derek Terry singled with a runner on first. Corey Ledington tried to bunt the runners over, but he popped the ball up and back toward the screen, where South catcher Austin Moore made a sensational diving catch for the first out. Vigeant then hit the next batter to load the bases, but settled down to retire the next two and get out of the inning. Corbin left two runners on base in the first and one in the sixth. For the Redhounds it was their third loss in a row.
The two teams were scheduled to meet last night at Corbin. South will now travel to Letcher County Central Friday and Lincoln County on Saturday.