By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Two old 12th Region rivals hooked up Thursday night as South Laurel played host to Southwestern Pulaski, with the Warriors battling back from a 4-1 deficit to take a 6-4 win.
Afterwards, South Laurel coach Wynn Harris tried to figure out what happened to his team after that first inning.
“I don’t know if we let just let down or what,” Harris said. “It seemed like we had a good bead on that guy (Southwestern starting pitcher Brandon Tucker). But we didn’t do much after the first inning.
After scoring four runs on four hits in the bottom of the first, South Laurel (17-5) managed just six more hits over the next six innings and left five runners stranded. It was also South’s second loss in the last three games after winning nine straight. The Cards beat Madison Southern Tuesday, 8-2.
It was Southwestern (20-5) getting on the scoreboard first against Cardinal starter Zach Allen, who struggled to find a rhythm early. With one out, he walked Trevor Stacey, then gave up a single to Logan Starnes that moved Stacey to third. A single on a nice hit-and-run by Trevor Howard scored Stacey for the 1-0 lead.
In the home half of the first, South Laurel touched Tucker for four runs on four hits and left two runners on base in taking a 4-1 lead.
Trent Abner led off with a single to left. Joe Gaines then laid down a perfect bunt single. When Tucker walked Alex Sears, the bases were loaded with no outs for Daniel Neal. Neal grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing Sears at second but scoring Abner to tie the game, 1-1.
After Neal stole second, Matthew Slavey’s single to left-center scored Gaines and Neal to make it 3-1. Slavey would later score on a single to left by Austin Moore to give South a 4-1 lead.
It stayed that way until the top of the third, when Southwestern scored three runs to tie the game at 4-4. The Warriors added two more runs in the fourth to up their lead to 6-4.
A double to right-center by Jacob Burchett led off the top of the third. He moved to third on a passed ball. Allen then walked the next two batters, Stacey and Starnes, to load the bases with no outs for Howard, who doubled to left to score Burchett and Stacey and chase Allen from the game.
Taylor Morris took over on the mound for the Cards, and he struck out the first batter he faced, Zach Profitt. Lucas Turpin then beat out an infield single that scored Starnes to tie the game, 4-4.
In the top of the fourth, the Warriors scored twice for the 6-4 lead.
With one out, Burchett singled to center. After Stacey flew out, Starnes walked, and Hunter Cromer came in as a courtesy runner. A single by Howard loaded the bases and that was all for Morris, as Trey Martin came on in relief.
With all bases occupied, he hit the first batter he faced, Profitt, to force in Burchett, then walked Turpin to force in Cromer to make it 6-4.
Both teams would put runners on base over the final three innings, but neither could push any across and the Warriors came away with the 6-4 win.
Wyatt Burton pitched the fourth, fifth and sixth innings for Southwestern, then Burchett took over in the seventh and retired the heart of the Cardinal order.
“This past week we’ve gotten into a bad funk,” Harris said. “Tonight I felt like we played good defense, but we didn’t threw it was well. We are two weeks away from the district tournament, and we need to clean up our pitching and defense. We’re a good team, but not the team we need to be going into the tournament.”
The Cardinals were on the road at Bell County Friday night and are scheduled to host Madison Central tonight and Clay County Tuesday.