LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Two evenly matched teams took to the diamond Wednesday night, as the South Laurel Cardinals prevailed over cross-town rival North Laurel, 4-3.
“Good well played game on both sides,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “Not a lot of mistakes. Runs were at a premium.”
Austin Vigeant picked up the win for the Cardinals as he threw another complete game, allowing three runs on four hits while walking seven and striking out four.
“Vigeant struggled but got back on track with that inning (the fourth) when he threw only six pitches,” Harris said.
“Hats off to Vigeant,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said. “He dealt it pretty good. He hit his spots and got movement on the ball. He threw strikes when needed and pitched a good game.”
Jaguar starter Zach Hurley turned in a strong performance himself. In his five innings of work, he allowed three runs on four hits, striking out five and walking five. He was lifted in the sixth for Dylan Messer, who ended up taking the loss when he gave up the eventual winning run.
“Hurley is a true diamond,” Harris said. “We got to him by getting his pitch count up and he got tired. He’s very good and I am impressed with him. One run was all it took tonight.”
It would be North Laurel striking first, in the top of the first, when the Jags took a 1-0 lead. Ethan Maxey led things off with a single, then Vigeant would walk the bases loaded as he struggled with his control early. Keaton Kennedy, running for Maxey, would be forced in when Logan Mallory walked. North could have really taken control early as the Jags had the bases loaded with only one out but Vigeant settled down and got the next two batters to get out of the jam.
“Bottom line is the first inning we could have put a dagger in them early and didn’t,” McWhorter said.
It stayed 1-0 until the bottom of the third when the Cardinals touched Hurley for three runs to take a 3-1 lead.
Joe Gaines led things off with a walk and stole second with one out. Daniel Neal beat out an infield single to put runners on first and third for Zach Allen, who hit into a fielder’s choice which allowed Gaines to score to tie the game at 1-1.
After both runners moved up on a wild pitch, Taylor Morris flew out to right and Neal raced for home, where he beat the throw to make it 2-1. Allen came home on an RBI single by Brennan Miller.
Vigeant then needed only six pitches to retire the side in the fourth inning. Hurley walked two batters with one out in the fourth but the Cards left both runners stranded.
North Laurel tied the game in the fifth with both runs coming with two outs. Weston Griebel singled to left and Hurley walked. A double by Austin Thompson cleared the bases and the game was tied, 3-3. South again left two runners on base in the bottom of the inning.
Some excellent defense helped keep the Jaguars off the scoreboard in the sixth inning when, with a runner on and two outs, Jack Capobianco’s dying line drive was caught by a diving Brennan Miller in right to end the inning.
“We hit balls we could have scored on,” McWhorter said. “They made the plays they needed to to win.”
The Cards scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth. Gaines led things off by reaching on an error off new pitcher Dylan Messer. Trey Martin followed with a single, and the runners moved up on a passed ball. After Neal grounded out to first, Allen was intentionally walked to load the bases for Morris, who forced Allen at second but Gaines scored to make it 4-3.
Hurley doubled with two outs in the top of the seventh and Thompson was intentionally walked, but Vigeant got Mallory to fly out to right to end the game.
“We hadn’t played a lot in the past two weeks but our bats were better than they were last Thursday,” Harris said. “We made contact and our defense made the plays they had to. It was a true team effort. Vigeant dealt it and kept the runs under four.”
“You’ll hear no gripes from me,” McWhorter said. We played well enough to win. We had a chance to win it at the end.”
The Cardinals played host to Pulaski County Thursday night, and will be on the road at Harrison County tonight and George Rogers Clark on Saturday. North Laurel traveled to Knox Central Thursday night and are scheduled to host Bryan Station tonight then travel to Jackson County Saturday.