By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
SOMERSET—Daniel Neal and Trent Abner both homered as the South Laurel Cardinals finished up regular season play with a 7-4 win over Somerset. For the Cardinals, it was their fourth win in a row.
“A solid win for us,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “We had a solid week. We had a tough game against Knox Central where we struggled to hit the ball but still won 1-0. Then we came out and played three pretty good games in beating Hazard (twice) and Somerset.”
The Cards were coming off a 12-7 win over Hazard to sweep a home and away series against the Bulldogs. In that game, Neal smacked two two-run homers.
His homer against the Briar Jumpers came in the fifth inning, with the bases loaded, to give the Cardinals a 5-0 lead. Abner homered in the fourth, a two-run shot. Six of the seven runs scored came via the long ball.
South Laurel used three pitchers in picking up the win. Taylor Morris got the start, going four innings, allowing three runs on four hits to pick up the win. Braden Miller, coming off the disabled list after missing six weeks, pitched the fifth and sixth innings where he allowed one run on two hits. Neal then closed the door on the ‘Jumpers in the seventh.
“All three guys threw great,” Harris said. “Taylor gave us four great innings, and it was good to get Braden back on the mound. Having all three of those guys available heading into the tournament is a positive.”
The game was scoreless until the top of the third when the Cardinals touched starter Addison Thompson for five runs on three hits to take control of the game early on.
With one down, Brennan Miller doubled to center and scored on an Abner double, also to center. Joe Gaines and Alex Sears both drew walks to load the bases for Neal, who took an 0-1 pitch from Thompson and deposited it over the left field fence for a grand slam and a 5-0 lead.
The Cardinals made it 7-0 in the fourth when Abner hit a two-run shot over the right field fence to chase Thompson from the game. Logan Combs came in to pitch the remainder of the game for Somerset.
The Briar Jumpers got three of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth, all off the bat of Logan Ramsey, who smacked a three-run homer to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Cards looked to have something brewing in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs, but couldn’t push any of those runs across. Somerset’s final run came in the sixth on a solo homer by Ramsey, his second of the game, but it wasn’t enough, as South Laurel took home the win, 7-4.
The Cards will now prepare for Williamsburg in tonight’s 50th District opener at Corbin.
“Hopefully this week has given us momentum going into the district,” Harris said. “Our defense played well tonight, and I hope that carries over. And our bats are doing what they do. We just have to continue to play team baseball.”
Tonight’s game is set for 5:30 p.m., with Corbin taking on Whitley County at 8 p.m. The two winners will meet Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. for the district title.
Against Hazard on Thursday night, South Laurel led 8-3 after two innings of play then held on for the 12-7 win. Trey Martin got the win for South. Neal homered twice and scored three runs. Alex Sears scored twice, as did Abner and Zach Allen. Gaines, Morris and Brennan Miller all scored a run.