The Russell County Laker baseball team clinched its fifth consecutive district championship on Tuesday.
The Lakers defeated Clinton County 14-0 and forced the 10-run rule in the fifth inning.
Russell County dominated in both of its district tournament games, forcing an early ending in both contests.
“I’m very proud of this bunch,” head coach David Rexroat said. “We had that COVID year, but they’ve come back these last two years and won [the district title]. It’s not easy. People think it’s easy, but you know, teams are always out to get you no matter what. You’ve got to come ready to play every game, and that’s a big key for this ball club, I think. They were ready to play in this district tournament. Their energy level was where it needed to be, and that energy carried over to the field.”
Russell County jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, with Isaac Roy and Nick Aaron driving in Mayes Gosser and Alex Reynolds, respectively.
The Lakers loaded the bases in the second inning but were unable to take advantage, leaving all three runners stranded.
In the third, two walks and a hit by pitch once again loaded the bases for the Lakers, and this time, Russell County made the most of their opportunity, with some help from the Bulldog defense.
With two outs, Maxon Gosser hit a ground ball to the shortstop that was misplayed, allowing Gosser to reach safely and Aaron to score.
Trace Stringer was then hit by a pitch to bring home Aidan Antle, and Mayes Gosser drew a walk to make the score 5-0 and keep the bases loaded. Clinton County went to the bullpen for a pitching change after the third HBP of the contest.
“The more pressure you can put on the opposing team, the quicker you’re going to get them to go to the bullpen,” Rexroat said. “And that’s been the main objective for us all year … We want to make the opposing team throw a lot of pitchers or get tore up, and then you feel pretty comfortable that you’ve got them after that. So that’s our philosophy, and it’s worked pretty good all year.”
The pitching change did not pay off for Clinton.
Nathan Lawson, who set the school record for home runs in a season in Monday’s win over Metcalfe County, was next up to bat and hit a grand slam to center field to make the score 9-0.
In the process, Lawson — an Eastern Kentucky University commit — extended his school record to 12 home runs this season.
Russell County sealed the game in the fourth inning with five more runs: a Bryce Cowell run on an error, a two-run double by Mayes Gosser to score Stringer and Maxon Gosser, an RBI double from Roy to bring home Mayes Gosser, and an Aaron ground out to plate Reynolds.
The 14-0 advantage was more than enough to end the game after the fifth inning with Lawson on the mound, who put together another dominant performance on the rubber. He pitched all five innings, striking out eight batters while allowing no runs and only three hits.
Russell County’s next game will be on Monday, when the Lakers will host Barren County in the opening round of the region tournament at Laker Field at 6 p.m.