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16th Region baseball quarters: Rams knockout Comets; Vikings rally back over Musketeers

RUSSELL Playing in a region tournament can get your emotions flowing.

Being down four runs with just two innings left can leave you downright frustrated.

That’s how Rowan County’s Hunter Hampton felt as Monday’s game against Greenup County progressed.

In his first three at-bats, Hampton had grounded into a double play and been hit by pitches twice. He hadn’t brought anyone home nor crossed home himself all game long.

After the third such at-bat, Hampton’s visible frustration drew some comments from the fans, prompting the officials to inform said fans to ease up.

Hampton stayed focused and when his team needed him the most, he drilled a double into left field, which took the Musketeers lead away for good.

One batter later, Hampton was crossing the plate himself for what would inevitably be the game-winning run.

“We got off to a wild start, a start you don’t want,” Hampton said. “But it’s all about believing. I told the guys to keep believing we can win this game. They stayed grounded and stuck to the mission. Greenup is a heck of a team, credit to those guys, it was a great game.”

That sequence was just part of a sixth inning rally that saw the Vikings go from trailing 8-4, to leading 10-8, which is where things stood as they defeated Greenup County in game three of the 16th Region Tournament first round.

“I’m proud of this team,” Rowan County assistant coach Rob Ward said. Ward took over coaching duties after head coach Scott Collins was tossed from the game halfway through. “We have a lot of players that have been through a lot of big games. I knew as long as we still had at least one out we had a chance in this game.”

The rally started with Hayden Mains batting in a pair of runs on a standup double to centerfield.

Chance Furnish followed that up with an RBI single to nearly the same spot to bring Mains home.

That’s when Hampton came to plate and silenced the crowd with his RBI double before making it home off an Abram Nordan single.

“When that train comes rolling down the line, you gotta be able to pull the brake back on it,” Greenup County coach Steve Logan said. “But we just stood in front of it. The game sped up on us and we weren’t able to slow it down. Our youth showed up in that sixth inning unfortunately.”

The Vikings got off to a good start at the bottom of the first with a pair of singles that were eventually converted into runs to go up 2-0.

Those hits came from Aaron Pennington and Mains.

Pennington came to plate off an RBI single from Caleb Cooper, Mains’ trip home was a little more difficult.

Hampton grounded into a double play, but in the middle of said double play, Mains reached home safely.

Hampton would’ve been safe at first, but a throwing error caused him to take off to second, but Greenup County recovered from the error to catch Hampton at second.

The Musketeers got to work in the top of the second.

Cohen Underwood smashed a two-out double to get Kasey Gammon to score the first of five runs.

After a single from Matthew Boggs, bookended by a pair of walks, Underwood came home on a bases loaded walk.

The bases were cleared fairly well on the next at-bat when Ty Logan air mailed a ball to centerfield for a three-run RBI double.

The end result put Greenup County up 5-2 after an inning and a half.

“We wanted to be aggressive, control our own destiny, and not get in a hole,” Logan said. “It started with the lower part of our order, we put some good swings on the ball, and then cleared the bases with that big double by Ty.”

Rowan County got a run back in the bottom of the third after a throwing error to check the runner at first allowed Cooper to cross home.

Greenup County answered with a trio of runs in the top of the fourth.

Bradley Adkins got a run with an RBI single and Collin Alexander posted two with an RBI double.

The second run on Alexander’s shot was a close call at home, but ultimately ruled safe.

Collins vehemently disagreed with home plate umpire Bill Heaberlin’s call.

Collins vigorously expressed his dissenting opinion and was thusly requested to retire from the premises.

“He was fighting for his players,” Ward said. “He went out there and did his thing for us, so we were going to fight for him.”

After Collins was tossed, Tyler Crisp entered as pitcher and got his crew out of the inning without further damage.

The Vikings pulled back to an 8-4 deficit thanks to an RBI double from Crisp.

“Hopefully our guys are ready for another dog fight tomorrow,” Ward said. “We have seven seniors on this team that don’t want to end their season yet, so I think they’re ready for it.”

GREENUP CO. 050 300 0 – 8 10 2

ROWAN CO. 201 106 X – 10 14 1

Gammon, Underwood (6) and Adkins; Wilburn, Mains (4), Crisp (4), Ingles (7) and Furnish. W - Crisp. L - Gammon. 2B - Logan (GC), Underwood (GC), Mains 2 (RC), Cooper (RC), Dehart (RC), Hampton (RC) .

RACELAND 11

WEST CARTER 1

If game two in the 16th Region Tournament was a boxing match, Raceland took a punch in the mouth right at the opening bell.

It just made the Rams swing back harder, eventually leading to a TKO victory.

Raceland took down West Carter 11-1 in six innings Monday to advance in the tournament.

“We mostly threw strikes, put the ball in play, and good things happened,” Raceland coach Marty Mills said. “Hats off to West Carter, they were down their lead off guy today. Our guys just went out and took care of business.”

West Carter coach Dustin Allgood hopes the experience lays a foundation for his young team to grow on.

“This is the first time we’ve made the tournament since I’ve been head coach,” Allgood said. “It’s an accomplishment for these kids. We’ve got a pretty good group coming back next year, so hopefully they’re excited for next year.”

West Carter landed the first punch of the contest in the form of back-to-back doubles with two outs on the board.

The first came via Comets pitcher Jake Carter, who blasted one into centerfield.

Carter then came home to score the first run of the game thanks to an RBI double from Tabor Tackett.

The Rams had a counter punch for that.

Parker Fannin reached on a lead-off single and would eventually find his way home on a passed ball.

Eli Lynd added to that with an RBI double that brought Brayden Webb home after Webb was walked.

Zane Bailey then brought Lynd’s courtesy runner 21 home with an RBI single before stealing home on a wild pitch to go up 4-1.

The Comets opened the second inning off with a walk, but Breyer Parsons struck out all three batters that followed to keep the Comets off the board in the frame.

Raceland added a couple more runs in the bottom of the second inning, in similar fashion as the first.

It again started with a Fannin single which eventually evolved into him stealing home a second time, this one thanks to Kadin Shore drawing the ball to him in a manufactured rundown situation.

“He’s a guy that comes out and plays everything,” Mills said of Fannin. “He’s coming in and putting in the work. He’s a hard hat and lunch pale type of guy.”

With the infield distracted, Fannin made it safely home while Shore eventually advanced to second.

Shore stole home himself a few pitches later, this one off another passed ball.

Carter hit another double for West Carter in the top of the third, but was caught leading off a few pitches later.

“I wish it could’ve continued,” Allgood said of the Comets’ moments of offense. “Playing a team like Raceland, you have to make the plays, hit the ball, make the outs, and minimize your errors.”

The Rams strung a walk and a pair of singles together to put two more runs to their tally in the fourth.

The first was off the bat from Parker Ison, the second was a rocket into right field that gave Connor Thacker a two-run RBI single to put Raceland up 8-1.

The Rams added another run in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a sacrifice shot from Webb brought Michael Pennington to plate.

Parsons turned the Comets away in three with a trifecta of strikeouts to bring his total to nine for the game.

“Parsons has had a heck of a year,” Mills said. “He’s only had one loss on the year. He’s hit the zone all year. He’s thrown a good season against some really good teams. He really had command of his pitches today.”

The Rams landed the final blows of the contest in the bottom of the sixth.

Ison hit a standup double brought home Bailey, then sealed the deal by stealing home on another passed ball to get the mercy win.

Mills hopes to repeat the process of sticking to fundamentals in the next round versus Boyd County.

“We’re just trying to throw strikes and keep them off the plate,” Mills said. “And then try to scratch a few runs. They’re a quality team, quality arms up and down, and can hit one through nine. Should be a pretty good ball game.”

W. CARTER 100 000 - 1 3 4

RACELAND 420 212 - 11 9 1

Carter, Clark (5) and Hedge; Parsons and Lynd. W - Parsons. L - Carter. 2B - Cater 2 (WC), Tackett (WC), Lynd (R), Ison (R).

(606) 326-2658 |

wadams@dailyindependent.com