Home Featured ‘We gave it all we could as long as we could’

‘We gave it all we could as long as we could’

Lakers end record-breaking season as state runner-up

The Lakers pose with their state runner-up trophy following Saturday's loss to St. X.
Downey Eye Clinic

The Russell County Lakers’ historic season on the diamond came to an end yesterday in the state championship game. 

Going up against Region 7 powerhouse St. Xavier (34-10), the Lakers (31-7) fell 11-1, closing the book on a magical postseason run.

“I’m very proud of our kids for making it this far,” Russell County head coach David Rexroat said after the game. “It’s been a great journey to get to the championship game. Hats off to St. X—they have some excellent pitching, great defense, and timely hitting.”

Despite what the final score might indicate, the contest was not without controversy or drama. 

After a relatively quiet first two innings, Laker lefty and first team all-state selection Cody Luttrell appeared to be cruising, keeping the Tiger bats off balance and behind in the count—typical for him this season. 

St. X. drew first blood, however, in the top of the third. Centerfielder John Paul Jardina reached on an error to lead off the inning, and a sac bunt put Jardina on second with one out. Then bats came alive for the Louisville private school, and after a few timely hits, St. X led 5-0 heading into the bottom of the third.

Russell looked to bounce back in the bottom half of the inning when Maxon Gosser was hit by a pitch and Trace Stringer followed with a double, putting runners on second and third with one out. Mayes Gosser then launched a deep fly ball to left, which appeared to score his big brother Maxon, who tagged up and easily beat the throw home. After appealing that Gosser left early, however, St. X was awarded the third and final out of the inning, killing the potential rally. 

Seemingly all of Russell County was in attendance, dwarfing St. X’s supporters, and they let the home plate umpire hear their displeasure, but it didn’t matter. Russell was unable to threaten again and the Tigers carried a 5-0 lead into the fourth.

The Lakers scored their only run of the game an inning later, when Nathan Lawson tripled and later scored on a Nick Aaron single. St. X added five more runs in the fifth and one in the seventh to set the final score at 11-1.

“I can’t say anything more than we gave it all we could as long as we could, and at least we’re state runners up,” Rexroat said. “The last two or three weeks have been so special. These nine seniors and the journey they took us on as coaches—to coach for 20-some years and go this far, it’s just special.”

Luttrell took the loss, allowing 10 hits and 10 runs (four earned) through 4.1 innings. Lawson led the offense with two extra-base hits, and Stringer added a single and a double. 

Following the game, Lawson, Luttrell, and Aaron were named to the all-tournament team. Alex Reynolds was awarded the Logan Billings Memorial Scholarship.

The loss wraps up arguably the best season in program history, as the Lakers finish the year as champions of the 16th District and 4th Region, and the KHSAA state runners-up. Rexroat said the memories made over the past few weeks will last a lifetime.

“It’s something we’ll never forget,” the longtime head coach said. “The town and the community, you saw this crowd here tonight. It’s untelling how many people we had here tonight. It’s just unbelievable.” 

The Lakers show their appreciation for the large Russell County contingent of supporters at Saturday’s state title game.
Laker head coach David Rexroat has a few words for the home plate umpire Saturday while his battery of Cody Luttrell and Isaac Roy discuss strategy.
Nathan Lawson launches a first-inning double in Saturday’s state title game against St. X.
Maxon Gosser slides safely into third Saturday in Russell County’s state championship matchup against St. X.
Trace Stringer celebrates a third-inning double in Saturday’s state title loss against St. X.
Downey Eye Clinic
Previous articleVERSUS: A look at tonight’s boxing and UFC matchups
Next articleStringer to participate in statewide sophomore showcase
Wes Feese is one of this company's owners and founders. He has previously worked as an editor, news reporter, sportswriter, photographer, and freelance contributor for newspapers across central Kentucky. He grew up in the Egypt community of Adair County and is a graduate of Adair County High School and Lindsey Wilson College.