By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WILLIAMSBURG—For the second consecutive game, the South Laurel Cardinals sent nine batters to plate in the first inning and scored five runs.
Saturday they did it against Somerset in an 11-5 win. Monday night’s victim was Whitley County, a game that was more significant since it was a district match-up, and the Cardinals rolled, 14-3.
“That’s back-to-back games we’ve had nine batters in the first inning,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to do that.”
The Cardinals (12-3, 3-0) banged out 15 hits while pitchers Trey Martin and Taylor Morris combined to throw a four-hitter. Martin started the game, going three innings to pick up the win. He allowed two runs on one hit while striking out five. Morris pitched the final two innings, giving up one run on three hits. He fanned two batters.
“The last week and a half we’ve hit the ball well,” Harris said. “We seem to be hitting our stride offensively.”
Trent Abner led off the top of the first and stroked a single to left off pitcher Jordan Crussenberry. After Joe Gaines drew a walk, Alex Sears hit a rocket, but right at shortstop Alex Rose for the first out.
Daniel Neal stepped to the plate and continued his hot hitting with a single to left that scored Abner for a 1-0 lead. Martin beat out an infield single to load the bases for Austin Moore.
They didn’t stay loaded long, as the South Laurel catcher doubled to left to score Gaines and Neal to up the lead to 3-0. Martin scored when Matthew Slavey grounded out to first, then Morris, running for Moore, came home on a double off the bat of Zach Allen for the 5-0 lead.
Whitley got one run in both the bottom of the first and second innings to cut the lead to 5-2. South responded with three in the third, then six more n the fourth to put the game away.
Neal led off the third by reaching on an error, stealing second, then advancing to third on a passed ball. Martin walked to put two runners on for Moore. Morris again came into run for Martin.
With the hit-and-run on, Moore singled through the hole at short as Rose broke for second to cover when Martin took off from first. Neal scored on the play to make it 6-2. Allen then singled to center to plate Martin and Morris (running for Moore) to up the lead to 8-2.
Just like in the first inning, the Cards sent nine batters to the plate in the top of the fourth, this time scoring six runs and chase Crussenberry from the hill as he was replaced by Jared Partin.
Sears beat out an infield single to deep short to get things started. He stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Neal was then hit by a pitch and stole second. Martin flew out to left to score Sears. Neal was able to advance to third.
Slavey lined a single off the pitcher’s glove. Allen followed with an infield single to load the bases for Brennan Miller, who singled to center, where the ball was misplayed allowing all three runners to score and Miller to end up on third on the two base error.
That’s when Partin took over the pitching duties. He got Abner to grounded out, but Miller scored on the play for the 14-2 lead. Whitley added a run in the bottom of the fifth, but the game ended with the mercy rule and a 14-3 win for the Cards.
Harris knows the importance of staying unbeaten in district play.
“We are trying to make sure we control our own destiny,” Harris said. “We want to give ourselves the best chance to get into the region.”
The Cards played host to Whitley County last night, and still have two games left against Corbin next Monday and Tuesday. The Redhounds already have one loss in district play. But Harris wasn’t overlooking Tuesday’s rematch with the Colonels.
“They still have a good arm sitting over there,” Harris said. “I expected to see him tonight. Corbin has the one loss, so it’s real important for us to go 4-0 before we face them.”
Harris was pleased with how his team took control against Whitley and didn’t let up. He feels like they are developing that killer instinct he has been wanting them to have.
“We had a little more killer instinct tonight,” Harris said. “We’ve got to learn not to let down when we have a big inning. Also, we need to refocus with two outs. We are still an average high school team striving to get better.”
The Cards are scheduled to travel to North Laurel Friday night.