LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
After dropping a doubleheader to Somerset the night before, the South Laurel Cardinals were looking for a shot in the arm when the team with the best record in the 13th Region came calling Friday night.
That shot was sophomore pitcher Austin Vigeant. The lefty threw 6 1/3 innings and gave up just one run on four hits as the Cardinals defeated Harlan County, 3-1.
“Austin came in and got us into the sixth inning before he hits the wall,” South coach Wynn Harris said. “Up until that point he gave us a great performance. He’s only going to get better. He’s a good addition to our pitching staff.”
“The wall” Harris was referring to was the sixth inning, where he walked the lead off batter before getting the next hitter out on a sacrifice bunt. Harris felt like his pitcher, who hadn’t thrown many innings of late, was getting tired and decided to pull him and send Stephen Simpson in to close out the game.
With the combination of Thursday night’s late night doubleheader, the fact that Harlan County sported the best record in the region (24-4) and it was an exceptionally warm May night, the Cardinals (21-11) could have folded and looked toward tonight’s 50th District Tournament game with Williamsburg.
But that wasn’t, as they say, in the cards.
“This shows a lot of character in our team,” Harris said. “We challenged them and wanted to make sure they were ready to go. This is the type of team I like to see. I want them to learn to be able to win the 3-1 games as well as the high scoring ones.”
Harlan County (24-5) got to Vigeant in the first inning, scoring its lone run on three hits. After the first inning until he was relived in the sixth, Vigeant allowed only one more hit.
“I usually get stronger as the game goes on,” Vigeant said.
After giving up three straight hits and a run, Vigeant was able to work his way out of the jam by getting the next three batters out as the Black Bears left two runners stranded.
The Cards took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to a two-run double by Zach Allen that scored Matthew Slavey and Drew Irvin. Allen would also score South’s third run in the bottom of the fourth when he singled, moved to third on a single by Joe Gaines, and scored on a passed ball.
Vigeant walked Braxton Fields with two outs in the top of the fifth, then struck out Tyler Dixon on three straight curve balls.
“We had good pitching tonight, good defense and we were emotionally in the game and intense. We put the ball in play, not as well as in the past, and we played smart. I’m happy with the way we played,” Harris said.
The Cardinals will take on Williamsburg tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Briar Creek Park in Williamsburg in the opening game of the 50th District Tournament. Should South win that game, it will play the winner of tonight’s second game between Corbin and Whitley County Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for the district title.