In June 3 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Russell County Laker baseball team repeated as 16th district tournament champions after a dominating 12-0 defeat of the Metcalfe County Hornets last Tuesday at Clinton County High School.
“It feels good,” said Laker head coach David Rexroat. “To win this second game and bring another district championship back home to Russell County is special.”
After starting out sluggish by walking the first two batters he faced, junior pitcher Martin Cross pitched a no-hitter for the Lakers, who put away the Hornets in five innings. Cross tallied six strikeouts in the performance.
An unassisted double-play by senior second baseman Bryson McFall helped Cross out in the first inning and the Laker bats got things going from then on.
The big bats from seniors Dillon Downey, Jordan Best and McFall, juniors Jared Coffey and Taylor Hutchison, sophomores Blake Aaron and Hunter Best and freshman Tyler Robertson all netted at least one hit and were too much for the Hornet defense. Laker bats seemed to find the seams and holes all night long as they strung out 15 hits over the five inning game. Both Downey and Coffey led the Lakers with three RBIs in the game.
“Going in I knew we had to prepare for lefties, because they have three and we faced them all year long,” said Laker head coach David Rexroat. “I felt like we prepared them pretty well as far as their hitting.”
Rexroat said his Lakers had prepared for the Hornets by facing southpaw pitchers in practice in the days leading up to the title game.
“We put a lot of pressure on them early, using bunts and hit-and-runs to get some runs early, and we were able to capitalize every season off of that and I think that was the big key ... just keep putting pressure on them,” he said.
The Laker coach said early on this season he and his staff were concerned with their pitching rotation. After graduating three seniors who pitched last season, the Lakers were left with a lot of young arms and a concerned coaching staff, but as the season went on more and more Lakers stepped up their games from the mound.
“They've kept us in a lot of ballgames,” Rexroat said. “Our defense is still there and our hitting, we're probably averaging nine runs a ballgame on the year.”
He cited a strong schedule as to why his team played so well in the district tournament, outscoring their opponents 22-1 in the two games.
“We didn't play that many teams from the 4th region but we've played a lot from the 12th region,” Rexroat said. “If you look at it, there is about six or seven of those teams that have been in the top 25 all year so we've played a pretty competitive schedule.”
The Lakers, whose record now stands at 28-8 on the season, advanced to the 4th region tournament at Western Kentucky University on Monday to take on Bowling Green in the first round.
“It is going to be a battle,” he said. “They've got good teams over that way every year so we'll have to be prepared for game one and not be thinking about anything else.”
Results from the first two regional tournament games can be found in this edition.
Lakers named to the 16th all-district team were Bryson McFall, Dillon Downey, Martin Cross, Hunter Best and Tyler Robertson.