Boyd County scuffled both early in the season and early in Saturday’s game against Lawrence County batting with runners in scoring position.
But the Lions have redeemed a 3-7 start to the year by being more successful in those situations, coach Brandon Ramsey said, and two late hits with men on base helped Boyd County rally past the Bulldogs.
Dylan Grimm jacked a three-run come-from-behind home run in the sixth inning and Ethan Hicks played tack-on with a two-RBI double in the seventh as the Lions beat the Bulldogs 8-5 in the last game of the Lawrence County Spring Classic.
Boyd County (14-11) has won 11 of its last 15 games after losing seven of its first 10.
“We struggled with runners in scoring position early in the year, and it seems like here lately we’re doing a lot better job,” Ramsey said. “Happy with where we are right now, and hopefully we can keep it moving for about the next four weeks heading into postseason play.”
Grimm, Hicks and Jake Cook were each 2-for-4 for the Lions.
Slone Alley earned the win in relief, coming on with the bases loaded in the second inning and minimizing the damage to one run, then scattering four hits over four innings and allowing only one run of his own. He had six strikeouts and no walks.
“He hadn’t thrown in a while, and comes in and throws strikes, mixed up his pitches, located real well,” Ramsey said. “Did an outstanding job.”
Brock Turner went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Lawrence County (18-6), which had won nine of its previous 11 games. Joe Wallen had a 2-for-4 afternoon.
Chase Coverdale took the decision for the Bulldogs in relief.
Lawrence County pitching issued eight walks.
“You’re not gonna beat quality teams walking that many people,” Bulldogs coach Travis Feltner said. “Just constantly added pressure on, and finally the Grimm kid had the big hit that kind of took the wind out of our sails.”
The Lions had great scoring chances in each of the first three innings — two runners on with one or zero outs in all three frames — and got only one run out of all of that, when Jordan Smith scored on Jacob Barnwell’s first-inning sacrifice fly.
Lawrence County thus led 3-1 after three innings on Turner’s and Wallen’s RBI singles and on Warren Price’s run scored from third base on a wild pitch.
But the Bulldogs felt they should’ve gotten more — they left six runners on base in the first three innings. So did the Lions.
All told, Lawrence County stranded 10 runners and Boyd County 11.
“It was a very odd, bizarre game on both ends of it,” Feltner said. “Both teams left a lot out there run-wise that could’ve opened it up their way early.”
Boyd County’s Corey Harper scored from third on a wild pitch and courtesy runner Zane Purscelley followed suit on a passed ball in the fourth inning to tie the game. Turner doubled home Zach Keesee in the home half of the frame to put the Bulldogs on top again, 4-3.
But Grimm’s blast over the right-center-field wall in the sixth inning and Hicks’s two-out, two-run insurance single in the seventh gave Boyd County all the runs it needed.
“We’ve had a few good wins here of late,” Ramsey said. “Kids have stayed in games. They’ve fought. We could’ve, really, easily given up, struggled early, but we just kept battling and battling and ended up getting the big hits.”
Lawrence County, trailing 8-4 entering its final at-bat, loaded the bases on Turner’s leadoff single and back-to-back Boyd County errors.
Price lifted a sac fly to score Turner, but that was all the Bulldogs got.
Lawrence County had the most wins in the 15th Region entering play Saturday, and against a schedule Feltner said is set up to prepare a youthful club for tournament time.
“You just gotta be battle-tested,” Feltner said. “I think our kids are. They’ve won most of ‘em and we’re still learning. We play six sophomores just about every day, and they’re talented, they can play, but you’re gonna have days when they’re not mentally where they should be.”
The Lions-Bulldogs tilt was the third game of the day. Earlier, George Rogers Clark swept two games, dropping Prestonsburg 3-1 and edging Boyd County 3-2.
BOYD CO. 100 203 2 — 8 10 2
LAWRENCE CO. 210 100 1 — 5 9 1
Wallen, Cavins (4), Coverdale (4) and Boyer; Bryan, Alley (2), Barnwell (6) and Wyatt. W — Alley. L — Coverdale. 2B — Harper (BC), Wyatt (BC), Turner (LC). HR — Grimm (BC).
ZACK KLEMME can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.