Head coach David Rexroat couldn’t stop smiling after winning his third region title at the helm of the Russell County Laker baseball team.
The Lakers defeated Warren East 10-5 on Thursday night, marking the program’s first region title since 2009.
“It’s hard to get to the championship game,” Rexroat said. “I think I’ve been here eight times, and we’ve been fortunate enough to win three. We’re just blessed to get the win for this bunch here. After COVID hit, I’m just so thankful how this bunch ended the [region tournament] and came out strong in the end.”
In addition to the amount of time since their last region title, this win was especially memorable for Rexroat because it happened with a senior class of nine players: Nick Aaron, Camden Carpenter, Maxon Gosser, Evan Hammond, Nathan Lawson, Cody Luttrell, Alex Reynolds, Isaac Roy, and Landon Walters.
“I think it’s very special for them to get a region championship,” Rexroat said. “Even just getting to the [region final] was special. Going into this year, every single senior class that I’ve had played in a region championship game in their four-year career. This was the last year that we could keep that streak going, and this bunch got it done. I’m very proud of the streak that they kept going, not only for them but for the players in the past.”
Luttrell picked up the win on the mound with a complete game effort. He said he was happy to be able to pitch the entire region title game, especially when Warren East scored four runs in the third inning to take a 5-3 lead.
“They were trying to get me out of the game the best they could,” Luttrell said with a chuckle. “I tried to keep my cool and throw strikes, and that’s what I had to do.”
Luttrell got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning and didn’t allow another run over the next five innings to pick up the victory.
“It feels great,” Luttrell said of winning the region title. “That was the goal for this season. That’s what we wanted. It feels like a fairy tale, that we got it in our senior year. We came up a little short last year, but we got it this year and it feels great.
“I’d just like to thank all of my coaches,” he added. “They did a great job coaching that game. All of the boys, they fielded some balls when they needed to and they hit the ball really well.”
Next up for the Lakers is a matchup with the Madison Central Indians (28-7), who won the 11th Region by defeating Sayre 4-2 Wednesday.
Madison Central senior pitcher John Girard has the most starts (11) and innings pitched for the Indians, with a 7-2 record and 0.76 ERA.
In 64 innings, he’s allowed 35 hits and 17 runs (just seven earned runs). He’s also struck out 53 and only walked 14 batters.
On offense, all eight players with at least 25 games played hits over .300 at the plate and four of those batters hit over .400.
Senior Hayden Robbins has a team-high 48 hits (with a .480 average), with eight doubles and five triples. He also leads the team with 25 stolen bases on 27 attempts.
Senior Matt Johns, who scored the go-ahead run against Sayre, is hitting a team-high .500 on the season and has drawn 25 walks. Junior Bradley Poynter has driven in the most runs for the Indians with 50 on 44 hits and boasts a batting average of .427.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Madison Central season stats do not include their region semifinal and region final game, which have not yet been posted.)
“We’re going to be playing a really tough ball club right off the bat, but once you get to the state, there’s nothing easy,” Rexroat said of the team’s mindset heading into tournament. “All the teams are good at this stage. You’ve just got to play your game and take care of business with what you do right. Hopefully, we have good pitching, play good defense, and score a few runs.”
The first round of the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Baseball State Tournament begins next Thursday, June 2 at 4 p.m. CT at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington.
Full stats from the region championship were not available at press time.