After a one-hour delay due to inclement weather, the Russell County Lakers (19-4, 5-1) defeated the Clinton County Bulldogs (11-9, 3-3) by a score of 13-0 to clinch the No. 1 seed in the district tournament.
While the end result was a dominant victory — which ended in five innings due to the 10-run-rule — the Lakers had a tough start to the game.
In the top of the first inning, Clinton County loaded the bases with no outs on a bloop single down the third-base line and two consecutive walks.
After a visit to the mound from head coach David Rexroat and senior catcher Isaac Roy, senior pitcher Nathan Lawson refocused his efforts and struck out three consecutive Bulldogs to end the inning unscathed.
Only two more Clinton County batters would reach base the remainder of the game.
In his win on the mound, Lawson only allowed two hits and no runs while striking out 13 batters in five innings of work.
Lawson accrued 12 of his strikeouts by fanning three batters in four of the five innings: the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th.
The Lakers’ bats helped complement Lawson’s dominant performance on the mound and helped them jump out to an early lead.
After junior Aidan Antle was hit by a pitch, Lawson hit a two-run homer to center field to take a 2-0 lead. Roy followed that with a single and hustled his way to third base after an error by the center fielder.
Senior Evan Hammond drove in Roy’s courtesy runner, senior Alex Reynolds, to make it a 3-0 game heading into the second inning.
Clinton County picked up its final hit of the night on a single to start off the top of the second inning, but a sacrifice bunt, ground out, and strikeout left him stranded on third base.
Russell County broke the game wide open in the bottom of the second.
Seniors Nick Aaron and Maxon Gosser reached base on a walk and error, respectively, and senior Camden Carpenter’s sac bunt advanced the base runners to second and third.
After sophomore Trace Stringer drew a walk, Lawson hit a grand slam, followed by a Roy solo home run to center field to give the Lakers a 9-0 advantage.
Hammond drew a walk, at which point Clinton County made a pitching change, but the new pitcher was only able to make one pitch before the hour-long weather delay.
Just as the game looked like it was going to be postponed, the weather let up to allow Russell County to continue its dominant performance.
After sophomore Bryce Cowell was hit by a pitch, Gosser singled to bring home Hammond for the final score of the second inning and to give the Lakers a 10-0 lead.
Both teams went scoreless in the third inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Roy led off with a double, followed by senior Cody Luttrell being hit by a pitch and Gosser being walked to load the bases.
A passed ball on a dropped third strike allowed sophomore courtesy runner Lincoln Helm to score while keeping the bases loaded.
A two-RBI single by Stringer ended the scoring barrage for Russell County and put the score at its final count of 13-0.
Roy led the team with three hits, and Lawson recorded a team-high six RBI.
A Laker loss would have created a two-way tie between the teams atop the district. With the win, Russell County will now face off against the No. 4 seed Metcalfe County Hornets (2-20, 0-5) in the opening round of the district tournament.
The game also served as Senior Night, recognizing the team’s seven seniors: Carpenter, Gosser, Hammond, Lawson, Luttrell, Reynolds, and Landon Walters.
The Lakers’ two fifth-year seniors — Aaron and Roy — were also recognized.
Russell County is scheduled to travel to Somerset today (Wednesday, May 4) to take on the Briar Jumpers (12-16). Luttrell is slated to take the mound for the Lakers.