In a rematch from an early-season game, the Russell County Lakers (14-4, 1-1) defeated the Adair County Indians (12-7, 3-1) by a final score of 4-2 on Monday, April 25.
Adair County started off the scoring with two runs in the opening frame. After a pop-out to start the inning, senior Carson Jessie hit a line drive single to center field. Freshman Brayton Coomer hit a grounder to second base, but a Russell County error allowed him to reach first base and Jessie to advance to third base.
A single by senior Braxton Smith scored Jessie, and another Laker error allowed Coomer to advance to third.
Eighth-grader Bryce Russell followed with another single to drive in Coomer.
A strikeout and fly out to left field ended the inning, but Adair County held on to a 2-0 lead through the first two innings.
In the bottom of the third, sophomore Trace Stringer singled to start off the inning for Russell County, and junior Aidan Antle drew a walk. Senior Nathan Lawson drilled a three-run homer to center field to bring both base runners home and give Russell County its first lead of the game at 3-2.
After the home run, there was an approximately 10-minute delay in the game as umpires checked the legality of Lawson’s bat.
Adair County contended that the bat was the 33-inch model of the 2020 Meta BBCOR Louisville Slugger baseball bat — sometimes referred to as the “2020 Blue 33” — which was banned by the National Federation of State High School Associations in March 2020.
After the delay — in which the umpires went back and forth between dugouts and used multiple cell phones to research the issue at hand — the home plate umpire made the “safe” gesture and play resumed.
The Lakers added another run when senior Alex Reynolds scored after a wild throw while advancing to third base on a passed ball.
Scoring was stagnant after the third inning, although both teams did manage to get runners into scoring position one more time.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lakers loaded the bases after a walk, hit by pitch and single by sophomore Bryce Cowell. Russell County bunted into a double play to end the inning.
Adair County was able to put two base runners on in the top of the sixth with two outs, but a line-out to Russell County’s pitcher, senior Cody Luttrell, ended the inning.
Russell County had seven hits as a team, led by two hits apiece from senior Isaac Roy and Stringer.
Stringer also led the team with two stolen bases, with Reynolds recording the only other stolen base for the Lakers.
Luttrell picked up the complete game win on the mound. He struck out 12 batters, pushing his strikeout total for his past three starts to 45. He allowed six hits and two runs (none earned), most of which occurred in the opening frame.
“Adair County was swinging the bats really well and picked up two runs early,” said Russell County head coach David Rexroat. “Cody settled in really well, though, and we did a good job defensively after that point.”
Rexroat added that Western Kentucky University scouts would be coming to watch Luttrell pitch next Wednesday against Somerset.
Adair County had six hits as a team, with six batters picking up a hit: Jessie, Coomer, Smith, Russell, senior Kaleb Keltner, and sophomore Jake McQueary.
Freshman Jagger Kemp started the game on the mound, allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) while striking out two batters in three innings of work. Freshman Aiden Smith came in as a relief pitcher, also going three innings. He allowed only one hit and struck out one batter.
Adair County head coach Ryan McQueary said the close score from Monday’s game shows how far his team has come this season. The Indians lost 11-0 and were 10-run-ruled by the Lakers after five innings in the first game of the season.
“It was a tough, hard-fought loss,” McQueary said. “We faced a really nice lefty arm (Luttrell) who I felt like kind of kicked it into a different gear after the first inning. We had a good game plan going in — and it worked really well — but we just could not push the lead as the game went along.
“But it tells us that our team is in a really good place and that we have definitely made great strides as the season has progressed.”
District games lie ahead for both teams.
Russell County heads to Metcalfe County (1-15, 0-1) today (Tuesday, April 26) to play a varsity doubleheader. Then, on Thursday, the Lakers will be looking to avenge their lone district loss of the season when they travel to play Cumberland County (4-9, 1-1) at 5 p.m.
“We’ve got to play good, smart baseball, get some really good pitching in so we can pick up some district wins over these next three games,” Rexroat said.
Russell County will end the week with a home game against Warren East (15-7) at 1:30 p.m. in a matchup between two of the top teams in the 4th Region.
Adair County’s next two games are a home-and-away against Marion County (15-5, 3-1). The Indians play at Marion County today at 5 p.m. before playing the Knights at home on Thursday, also at 5 p.m.
Adair’s games will have significant district tournament seeding implications for both teams. If either team sweeps, the winning squad will clinch the No. 1 seed. A series split and Taylor County sweeping Campbellsville (the Eagles are 0-4 and already locked into the No. 4 seed) this week would create a three-way tie for the No. 1 seed.