Lawrence clips Franklin 9-8

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

MONTICELLO– The Lawrence County Cougars edged the FranklinCounty Bulldogs 9-8 in high school baseball action Saturdayafternoon at Jimmie Davis Park. The Cougars spotted the Bulldogs a4-0 lead, roared back to take a 9-4 lead, then barely held off aFranklin County rally in the seventh inning.

With the win, Lawrence County improved to 4-1 on the season.Franklin County fell to 1-4. First-year Lawrence County coach CoryKeyes was pleased to get the win after an ugly start.

“I was proud of the way our guys battled back,” Keyes said. “Wewalked the first 5 batters of the game and were down 3-0 beforemost people got settled into their seats. Our guys could easilyhave written this one off, but they didn’t. They battled back. Thesame can be said for Franklin County, too.”

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Lefty Marty Ballard started for Lawrence County, but was felledby control problems, and relieved by Johnathan Stephens. Fivestraight walks and a Ryan Hall groundout gave the visiting Bulldogsa

3-0 lead in the very early going.

Hall, Franklin County’s starting pitcher, made that lead standup through 3 innings, by constantly pitching out of trouble.Lawrence County’s leadoff batter reached base in every inning ofthe game, but the Bulldogs led 3-0 through 3 innings.

In the top of the fourth, Bulldog catcher Cable McMinn led offwith a double off the right field fence, and scored on a wildpitch. Franklin County led 4-0.

A curious play helped Lawrence County battle back in the bottomof the inning. With runners on first and second and none out,Cougar right fielder Taebyus Smith bounced a one-hopper right backto Hall. What would have been an easy out, and perhaps a doubleplay, got complicated when the baseball lodged in the webbing ofHall’s glove. Hall unsuccessfully attempted to toss the entireglove to third base for a force out. Lawrence County also tookadvantage of 2 bases on balls, a hit batsman, 2 errors, and singlesby Stephens and Jeremy Williams. The game was tied at 4-4 after 4innings.

In the bottom of the fifth, Lawrence County took the lead forthe first time. Trent Hartzog reached via a hit batsman, thenStephens and Smith hit back-to-back doubles, giving the Cougars a6-4 lead.

The Cougars seemingly put the game away with three more runs inthe bottom of the sixth. The lone hit in the inning was an RBIdouble by Joseph Evans. Stephens had a sacrifice fly.

Stephens’s mound effort was even more impressive than hisoffensive work. Stephens walked the first batter he faced in thatlong first inning. After that, he retired 18 of the next 22Franklin County batters. He struck out 6 and allowed just 2hits.

Mackenzie Woods and later, Evans, relieved Stephens in the topof the seventh. It was then Franklin County’s turn to mount acomeback. After a walk, Dave Hodges doubled to right. Baron Jonesthen singled to center. After a Justin Steele sacrifice fly,Bulldog center fielder James King blasted a homerun over LawrenceCounty’s black center field wall. Suddenly, it was a 9-8nail-biter.

Evans came in to retire the final 2 Bulldog batters, clinchingLawrence County’s fourth win of the young season.