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16th Region baseball semis: The final approach: Brown, Lions shut down Rams, move on to title game

RUSSELL For Boyd County’s starting pitcher Ryan Brown, 13 was a lucky number.

It’s how many Raceland batters he retired on Tuesday en route to the Lions securing a 6-3 win to advance to the 16th Region championship game.

“It felt great,” Brown said. “My team battled. We started slow offensively, but we battled through and won the game.”

Brown set the tone for the Lions’ defense and helped them stay in control from start to finish.

“He pitched his guts out,” Boyd County coach Frank Conley said. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid that you want to have on your team. We were in a dog fight tonight. Raceland is well-coached, well-disciplined, but we got through it.”

Brown got on for Boyd County in the first inning and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from JK McKnight, but he was ultimately stranded there.

McKnight’s bunt was his second attempt at moving the runner over, but the first went foul. Raceland pitcher Brayden Webb ran after the ball and collided with McKnight as sprinted up the base line.

It drew the ire of Lions fans as McKnight got up favoring his left arm.

Brown continued to make Raceland scratch and claw for everything, getting three strikeouts across the second and third innings.

“I knew if I could throw strikes or get them to put it in play where we could get them out, we could win the game,” Brown said. “I’m proud of this team. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”

The Rams got singles from Parker Ison and Fannin during that time, but that was it for their offense.

Boyd County got a pair of hits in the bottom of the second frame from Brogan Jones and Peyton Jackson, but a double play off the bat of Jacob Vanover and Webb’s second strikeout of the game ended any further offense.

It would change in the bottom of the third.

Alex Martin stepped up for his second at-bat of the game and sent a ball into space over the center field wall for a two-run home run.

Ison tried to respond for Raceland, picking up his second hit of the day, but Brown retired the other three Ram batters at the top of the fourth.

Boyd County tried to build on its momentum, getting runners on first and second after a double from Jackson, but the Rams stood tall, turning the Lions away with a heads-up play at second by Ison to get in front of the ball and get the third out.

The Rams weren’t so lucky in the bottom of the fifth.

“We’ve been a little funky offensively for a while,” Conley said. “It felt really good to see a kid like Peyton Jackson and Jacob Vanover hit some balls with exit velocity.”

Jones drilled an RBI single into left field that brought Martin home.

Vanover followed that up with a mirrored shot into right field that got Grant Slater to the plate.

A bad throw to second paved the way for Dustan Webb to come home for the third run of the inning.

Boyd County got one more off a Michael Porter bunt to go up 6-0.

Raceland finally looked to have something going at the top of the sixth, loading the bases with one out.

Brown struck out the next two batters, his 11th and 12th of the game, but not before Eli Lynd scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-1.

The Rams tried to make a comeback in their final at-bat.

Brown exited the game in the seventh for Brody Biggs due to the pitch count, and Raceland took advantage immediately.

Kadin Shore hit a double and Webb did the same, hitting a two-run extra-base hit to pull within three.

It was as close as it would get as Biggs struck out Zane Bailey to seal the win.

Raceland coach Marty Mills and the Rams departed the field before he could be reached for comment by press time. Visit our website at dailyindependent.com for the full game story.

RACELAND 000 001 2 — 3 9 1

BOYD CO. 002 040 X — 6 12 0

Webb, Davidson (5), Shore and Lynd; Brown, Biggs (7) and Jones. W — Brown. L — Webb. 2B — Jackson (BC), Shore (R). HR — Martin (BC).