Lawrence Co. divides with Ole Brook Panthers

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 16, 2009

MONTICELLO – Brookhaven and Lawrence County split a varsitybaseball doubleheader on a cold, drizzly Friday night at JimmieDavis Park. Lawrence County claimed the first game, 4-1, behind astrong pitching performance by Conner Oakes. Ole Brook came back toclaim the nightcap, 11-8, holding off a late Cougar rally.

Coach Randy Spring’s Panthers ended the week with an overallrecord of 10-5, and a Division 6-4A mark of 6-3. Lawrence County,coached by Cory Keyes, now stands at 11-4 overall, and 8-1 in thedivision.

By virtue of their 5-1 win at Moyer Field on Tuesday, theCougars won two of three in the 3-game series, putting LawrenceCounty in the drivers’ seat in the division standings.

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“We needed to win two of three,” Keyes said, “and we were ableto accomplish that. Of course, when you win the first two, you getgreedy and want the third one. We’re disappointed we weren’t ableto accomplish that, but we had a profitable week.”

Lawrence 4, Brook 1

The Cougars’ first game win came largely on the strength ofOakes’ fine 7 innings of work. Oakes worked his way through first-,third-, and sixth-inning jams to earn the series victory for histeam. Oakes allowed 7 hits, walked 3, and struck out 6. JarvisWilbert’s sixth-inning leadoff homerun accounted for Brookhaven’slone run. Oakes improved to 4-0 on the season.

“That’s as good a game as Conner has thrown for us,” Coach Keyessaid. “Brookhaven’s first 2 hitters got aboard, and with the 3 and4-hole hitters they’ve got, that could have been the start of along, tough, night. Conner battled right through it, though, andwas pitching as well at the end as he had all night.”

Nick Helmstetter had a single and a double for Brookhaven. GabeWilson, Bud Britt, Brandon Foster, and Nick Peavey each hadsingles.

Oakes’ effort was almost matched by Ole Brook lefty BrandonFoster. Foster also threw a complete game. In 6 innings of work, hegave up 10 hits, but was able to keep his team in the game to theend. Foster struck out 1 and walked or hit 4 batters.

Lawrence County broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of thefourth. Oakes, Tyler Reeves, and Wesley Wilson opened the inningwith consecutive singles. Foster retired the next 2 Cougar batters,but LCHS second baseman Lane Stephens came through with a big 2-outsingle, driving in 2 runs.

In the bottom of the sixth, Lawrence County added 2 insuranceruns despite losing 2 runners on the base paths. Wilson and FordJohnson had doubles in the frame. Designated hitter Dylan Lea had asingle, and catcher Dillon Lee had a key sacrifice bunt that waserred by the Panthers.

Buckley led Lawrence County with 3 hits, Wilson had 2.

Brookhaven 11, Lawrence Co. 8

Between games, playing conditions took a turn for the worst.Mild temperatures and a light mist turned into cold temperaturesand a steady drizzle. One player who seemed unperturbed was Panthersophomore J.D. Britt. Britt went out and claimed the final game ofthe series for Brookhaven.

“J.D. did a great job for us,” Coach Spring said. “In very toughconditions, he went out there and salvaged the night for us.Obviously, we wanted to win them both. Even though we didn’t, bywinning the final game, we’re able to leave here on a positivenote.”

Britt’s effort wasn’t a thing of beauty-he gave up 7 hits,plunked 4 Cougar batters, and walked 2-but considering theconditions and how badly the Panthers wanted to avoid the 3-gamesweep, he came up big.

Through 5 and a half inning, Britt and the Panthers rolled upand 11-2 lead. Bud Britt’s first-inning homer accounted forBrookhaven’s first run. Lawrence County scored single runs in thesecond and third to take a 2-1 lead, but Ole Brook scored 4 in thefourth. Helmstetter and Wilbert had doubles in the frame, andElliott McKee had an RBI single.

In the top of the fifth, the Panthers added 2 more. Bud Britthad a leadoff single, and BHS took advantage of 2 bases on ballsand a dropped fly ball. Four LCHS pitchers walked or hit a total of13 Brookhaven batters, and the Panthers took advantage.

Brookhaven added 4 more in the top of the sixth. Jarvis Wilbertand Isaac Jones had doubles, and Zach Halliwell whacked a 2-runhomer. The Panthers were the recipients of 4 more free passes inthe inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Ford Johnson and Dylan Lea had RBIsingles for Lawrence County, cutting the Panther lead to 11-4.Things really got interesting in the bottom of the seventh. TheCougars rallied for 4 more runs, and actually got the potentialtying run to the plate. Britt got Willie Buckley to ground out,however, ending the game.

Wilbert led BHS with 3 hits. Bud Britt had 2. J.D. Britt, McKee,Helmstetter, Halliwell, and Jones each got 1.

Johnson, Buckley, Votaw, Oakes, Reeves, Stephens, and Lea eachhad hits for Lawrence County.

The Friday meeting likely marked the final division contestsbetween the two neighboring baseball rivals. At the start of thenext school year, MHSAA schools will be divided into sixclassifications. Brookhaven will move up into the 5A ranks, whileLawrence County will remain a 4A school.

“I’ll miss these nights,” said long-time LCHS assistant CraigDavis, the most-veteran observer of the Lawrence County-Brookhavenseries. “Win or lose, we’ve had lots of great nights of baseballwith those guys. And as intense as the competition has gotten onthe field at times, it’s been a very healthy and positiveseries.

“We’ll keep playing, I’m sure, but Saturday non-division gamescan never match the intensity of a Friday-night division battle.We’ve enjoyed it tremendously.”