Both the coaching staff and players for the Russell County High School Laker baseball team knew they would have to bring their “A” game to beat the Madison Central Indians (28-8-1).
And that’s exactly what the Lakers did, picking up a 2-1 win to move on to the state tournament quarterfinals.
“They were the 11th Region champion, so you know going in, anytime you play a team out of [that region], you have to be ready,” head coach David Rexroat said. “For the most part, we played a clean game and got in a couple of runs so I’m really happy about the performance today.”
Nathan Lawson was on the mound for the Lakers (29-6) and allowed only two hits and had six strikeouts* for the complete game win.
“Coming into this game facing Madison Central, I knew they could swing it,” Lawson said. “I knew they were going to hit the fastball good, so I had to get all three pitches working early: my fastball, changeup, and slider. Out there on the mound, I felt like I could throw any of those pitches on any count exactly where I wanted to today.”
“Having Nathan on the mound, we knew he could throw strikes and do a good job performing on the mound,” Rexroat added, applauding his offense for giving Lawson run support and his defense for playing a “mostly” error-free game.
Lawson also drove in the first of the Lakers’ two runs in the bottom of the third with an RBI double, bringing home Trace Stringer.
“I was seeing the ball good and knew I was going to see offspeed (pitches) early in the count,” Lawson said. “He hung me that curveball outside, and I just stayed with it to hit it in the gap, get the RBI.”
Isaac Roy drove in the team’s second run just after Lawson’s double, scoring courtesy runner Alex Reynolds in what turned out to be a crucial play at the plate in the Lakers’ favor.
The hit earned Roy a literal “Attaboy” from Lawson after the game.
The Lakers will take on Beechwood (29-6) in the quarterfinals. The Tigers defeated Owensboro Catholic (30-5) 7-6 in extra innings during their first-round game.
“I know both of these teams will be insanely hard to beat,” Lawson said before knowing whether the Lakers would be playing Beechwood or Owensboro Catholic. “Both of these teams can swing it very well and throw it very well.”
The game will take place Saturday, June 4, at 12:30 p.m. Central time at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington.
“I just want to thank all of the fans for their support today, and we’ll need some big support on Saturday,” Rexroat said. “I hope everyone can come out.”
*Official stats were not available from this game at press time.