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EC Hornets 4-3 over LCHS

HURLEY – The East Central Hornets defeated the Lawrence CountyHigh Cougars 4-3 in opening-round class 4A high school baseballaction Thursday night at East Cental. East Central overcame a 3-0Lawrence County lead behind a gutsy complete-game pitching effortof Aaron George.

The win gives East Central a 1-0 lead in the best-of-threeseries. Game two will be played tonight at Jimmie Davis Park inMonticello. If necessary, the third and deciding game will beplayed back at East Central on Saturday night.

East Central, coached by Gary Long, improved to 25-4 with thewin. Lawrence County fell to 18-11 with the loss. For third-yearLawrence County High coach Chris Clark, it was a frustrating, butnot a discouraging defeat.

“We certainly had chances to win the game,” Clark said, “but wefailed to seal the deal when we had the chance. When we went up 3-0in the fourth, it really should have been more than 3-0. After thefourth, we never did anything again offensively.

“I give all the credit in the world to East Central. They gotbehind, but they stayed in the fight and made the plays that had tomake to get the win. That’s no accident. That’s why they’re25-4.

“Still, I like our chances,” Clark continued. “This is a greatdeal like the spot we were in last week against Terry, so we’vebeen here before. We’ve got to win two in a row, and we thinkthat’s very possible. We don’t match up too badly against thisteam.”

For a while Thursday, it looked as though Clark’s Cougars weregoing to have their way. Pitcher Klein

Harbour and first baseman Corey Rogers had hits in the top ofthe first, as Lawrence County grabbed a 1-0 lead. With Harbourbreezing through the East Central lineup in the early going, itremained 1-0 through three.

In the top of the fourth, Rogers had a two-run single asLawrence County increased its lead to 3-0. Casey Williams had adouble, and Marlon Stanfield a single, in the inning. Unfortunatleyfor Lawrence County fans, Cougar bats fell silent after that. LCHSwould have just one more baserunner after the fourth, and he wouldbe erased by a double play.

East Central’s Aaron George got stronger as the game wore. Thehard-working right-hander effectively scattered seven Cougar hits,while striking out eight. George allowed one hit batsman to reach,but did not walk a single hitter, going to a three-ball count justtwice in the game.

While George was cooling off the Cougar bats, the Hornets werestarting to battle back against Lawrence County’s Harbour. In thebottom of the fourth, three straight hits, including a boomingdouble to center by center fielder Joey Burlison and a two-runsingle by first baseman Chris McDaniels, plated two East Centralruns. That made it a 3-2 game.

Casey Williams relieved Harbour in the fifth in the midst of abases-loaded jam. Williams entice an inning-ending groundout to getout of that one, but more trouble came in the bottom of the sixth.By virtue of a single, three walks, and two wild pitches, EastCentral was able to push across the tying and winning runs.

“Klein and Casey both pitched well,” Clark said. “Klein gave usanother very good start, and Casey had some tough luck out there.He pitched better than his pitching line will indicate.”

Lawrence County will host East Central tonight at 7 p.m.