A leadoff homerun off the bat of Bryce Cowell set the tone for what lied ahead Monday night in Russell County’s 11-0, five-inning win over Adair County.
“I think the opportunity for us to have made a statement by beating a top 25 team would have been huge; however, this game will not define us and our season,” Adair head coach Ryan McQueary said following the loss. “It is what it is, one game in a 36-game season, that’s all. We lost to a really good team with maybe the best pitcher we will face all year, but we are a really good team also — I love our team and its makeup.”
Cowell’s blast over the left field wall began a three-run first for the Lakers, and the damage could have been much worse, if not for Maxon Gosser lining a grounder that the Tribe turned into a slick 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
It wouldn’t matter much. Russell pounded out two more runs in the second, added another pair in the fourth, and crossed the plate four times in the fifth to bring the 10-run rule into effect and end the game a half inning later.
Unfortunately for Adair, their bats could not keep pace in this one. Facing hard-throwing righty Nathan Lawson, an Eastern Kentucky University commit with a 90-plus mph fastball, the Indians managed only three hits in the shutout. Lawson struck out eight and walked one, par for the course for a player who struck out 91 and accrued a 1.95 ERA through 64.2 innings of work on the mound last year.
“It was a very good performance by him on the mound,” head coach David Rexroat said of his ace. “His velocity was very good, and he had an outstanding curveball that kept them off stride, just a really good showing for Nathan’s first outing of the year.”
Laker freshman centerfielder Mayes Gosser, hitting in the No. 8 hole, smashed his second career varsity home run in the second inning, less than halfway through his second career varsity game. Rexroat was proud to see his leadoff (Cowell) and 8-hitter showing their explosiveness at the plate
“Bryce and Mayes hitting homeruns, being a sophomore and freshman, it was big for us to get some key hits from them,” Rexroat said. “They both play an outstanding role offensively and defensively for us.”
Adair used a quartet of hurlers on the bump: Kaleb Keltner, Carson Jessie, and Isaac Rodgers in addition to starter Braxton Smith. All four battled and all four will surely see brighter days on the mound, but the Russell County bats were too much to handle in this one.
McQueary said his team will use the loss as motivation going forward.
“I made the comment to our players, if there was a fan here who doesn’t come back all year after watching this one game, I told them to spend the rest of our season making those fans wish they would’ve given us another opportunity to prove to them just what a special team we truly have,” the Adair coach said.
The win advances Russell County in the 2A State Sectional Tournament. The Lakers play Allen County-Scottsville Saturday in Scottsville at 10 a.m., and the winner of that game will face the victor of Hart County and Franklin-Simpson at 3 p.m. for the opportunity to advance to 2A State.
Box score stats are provided courtesy of 93.5 WAIN.