By ROCKY STANLEY - The Independent
LOUISA — Lawrence County pitching sensation Chandler Shepherd snatched a state record away from Greenup County on Thursday night with another shutdown performance.
Shepherd, a sophomore, fired a one-hitter to stymie the Musketeers 2-0 and extended his streak of scoreless innings to 43.
Former Greenup County pitcher Tyler Hieneman set the old mark of 37 last season. But the Musketeers again came away empty-handed against Shepherd in a repeat of last year’s state quarterfinal game won by Lawrence County 4-0.
“Somehow, we’ve got to figure out how to score a run off this guy and find a way to beat them,’’ said Greenup County coach Greg Logan. “Lawrence County has a great program and a good ballclub. I would say that Shepherd is the best pitcher in the state of Kentucky at this time.’’
He looked the part Thursday. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder struck out 11 batters and walked none while throwing 77 pitches.
“Chandler was outstanding,’’ said Bulldogs coach Travis Feltner. “He just commands the strike zone.’’
Shepherd hasn’t allowed a run since May 10 of last season against Montgomery County. Greenup County managed only three baserunners — two via errors — but mounted a threat to Shepherd’s streak in the second inning.
Zack Reed led off with a deep drive to left center that went for a double. For a split second, Shepherd wondered if it might get over the fence.
“That went through my mind,’’ he said. “It scared me a little bit. I left the pitch up in the zone.’’
A sacrifice bunt moved Reed to third base. The Musketeers then tried to execute a squeeze play, but the bunt went foul and Shepherd slammed the door with two strikeouts.
“It would have meant a lot to get a run there because our former pitcher had the record,’’ Logan said. “That was our big chance.’’
Shepherd only got stronger as the game progressed. He racked up seven strikeouts in the last three innings.
“I tried to work ahead in the count and keep throwing strikes,’’ Shepherd said. “Greenup County is always a good team. You know it’s going to be a challenge. I respect them a lot on and off the field. It’s good competition.’’
Lawrence County catcher Jordan Miller provided the big hit in a pitching battle between Shepherd and Greenup County’s Zac Smith. Shepherd legged out an infield hit in the first inning and Miller followed with a rocket shot over the left-field fence.
“Jordan crushed it,’’ Shepherd said. “It didn’t have a lot of height, but he has the power to hit the ball a long way. I was glad to see I had a couple of runs to work with.’’
Smith kept the Musketeers in the game by holding Lawrence County to no runs and three hits over the next five innings.
“Zac is down a little in our rotation,’’ Logan said. “He probably threw 80 percent curveballs and pitched well, but just got overshadowed by Chandler Shepherd.
“We’ve got three years to try to score off him. The guy works ahead in the count and allows zero walks. His breaking ball is nasty and it’s hard for a high school hitter to catch up with a chest-high fastball that’s 90 miles per hour.’’
The preseason Top 20 teams could meet several times this season. The Bulldogs (7-2) will play in the Greenup County Bash next weekend and the Musketeers (6-5) are also scheduled to host Lawrence County on April 30.
GREENUP 000 000 0 — 0 1 0
LAWRENCE 200 000 x — 2 6 2
Smith and Logan; Shepherd and Miller. W—Shepherd. L—Smith. 2B—Reed (GC), Compton (LC), Banks (LC). HR—Miller (LC).