The Russell County Middle School Lakers got off to a rough start this baseball season, losing the first two games. Those two losses would be the squad’s only two all year, however, and the boys capped off their 17-game winning streak Monday night with a Central Kentucky Middle School Athletic Conference championship.
The No. 1-seeded Lakers, who finished 17-2 overall and 13-1 in conference play, picked up an 8-7 championship victory over the No. 3-seeded tournament hosts, the Campbellsville Eagles, in a back-and-forth contest.
Russell County jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first frame, but Campbellsville answered with four runs in the second inning to grab the 4-2 edge.
Russell County regained the lead in the fourth inning. A two-run single with the bases loaded and no outs tied the game for RCMS, and the Lakers scored four more runs to take an 8-4 advantage into the fifth inning.
In the sixth and final frame, Campbellsville scored two runs and had the bases loaded with one out. The Eagles brought home another runner to make the score 8-7, but the Lakers were able to get out of the jam and come away with the conference title.
Stats from the game were not available at press time.
Following the game, Carter Stapp was named Conference Player of the Year and tournament MVP.
Head coach Josh Popplewell said he was happy with the team’s effort and ability to come away with the victory after falling behind early.
“Whenever we got on the bus, the boys are usually pretty fired up and they have a good time, but there wasn’t a word spoken until we got past Columbia so I’m sitting in front of the bus and I was thinking, ‘Oh, no,’” Popplewell said. “I told them before we started that they needed to (loosen up). They got down early, but they settled in, did what we asked them to do, and clawed their way back into it and came away with the win.”
Popplewell has been the RCMS head coach now for three years, and he was able to win his first conference tournament at the helm, as the event had not been held since 2019. The Lakers made it to the title game after defeating Hart County 16-0 and taking down Metcalfe County in the semifinals by a score of 8-1.
“The boys played great,” Popplewell said. “They competed. It was a great win. They do what we ask them to do every day, and it’s just a great bunch of kids.”
The RCMS assistant coaches are Ronnie Popplewell and Garret Stephens.