Russell hits, hurls Lawrence Co. past E. Central

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 2, 2005

MONTICELLO — Behind the pitching of Jake Russell and his grandslam home run in the sixth inning, the Lawrence County Cougarsdumped the East Central Hornets 5-1 in the first game of thebest-of-three series in the South State Class 4A Baseball Playoffs.A second game, set for Saturday at Hurley, was rained out. It willbe played Monday night at 6.

If East Central wins Monday, the Hornets would return toLawrence County this Thursday for a third and final game.

Lawrence County improved to 26-5 with the win and East Centralfell to 19-10.

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In other South State 4A action, Petal beat Terry 4-0 in Friday’sopener. The winner of that series will face the LawrenceCounty-East Central winner next for the South title in the nextround.

“I wasn’t 100 percent tonight.” said Russell (7-1) after thewin. “The defense behind helped me out. My curveball was gettingsome strikeouts. I was excited to get the big hit to help put us upand ahead.”

Lawrence County, powered by Russell’s grand slam, exploded forfive runs in the bottom of the sixth for a 5-1 lead and eventualwin. Scoring the first run in the inning was Joseph Evans who drewa walk, stole second and came home on a sacrifice fly by TaebyusSmith.

Jonathan Stephens had followed Trent Hartzog with a single toload the bases. Hartzog also walked.

East Central scored its only run in the top of the fourth inningfor a brief 1-0 lead over Lawrence County. Centerfielder JakeMcNeese doubled and scored the run on a wild pitch. McNeese alsohad a single for the team’s only other hit.

“Everytime we play them it is a back and forth ball game,” saidLawrence County head coach Corey Keyes. “Jake pitched a good gameand came up with the big hit and helped us win the game.

“Our fans did a great job giving us their support, as they havedone all year.”

Contributing to the Cougars’ win with a pair of singles was NickJackson. Singling were Evans, Johnathan Stephens, Michael Thompsonand Jeremy Williams.

East Central pitcher Adam McQueen struck out 6 batters andwalked 1.

“It was quick,” said East Central head coach Garry Long.”Lawrence County did a good job getting runners on in the sixth.And got that big home run. We did not hit the ball real well. We’vegot to get more than two hits to win games.”

Lawrence County outhit East Central 7-2. The Cougars committed 3errors to the Hornets’ 1.