Sammy Holder was more excited than usual.
Lewis County's senior pitcher knew Kentucky Wesleyan assistant baseball coach Adam Akin was in the stands Monday — Holder will pitch for the Panthers next season — but he controlled visiting Raceland.
Holder struck out 11 and allowed just two hits to help the Lions snap a two-game losing streak, 2-0.
“I was a little high-strung,” Holder said. “It's pretty exciting, especially with the (radar) gun on you. It's kinda hard to settle down, but finally I settled down and started to throw strikes.”
Lewis County coach Jack Lykins was happy: “As long as we get good pitching, we’re going to stay in the game,” he said.
Holder, shortstop Austin Evans and second baseman Jordan Doyle provided most of the Lions' offense. Holder and Evans each had a double, and Doyle was 2-for-3 with a run batted in.
Raceland, meanwhile, is 2-3 over its last five games.
“We just come out and try to battle every game, hopefully we get a chance,” Raceland coach Randy Vanderhoof said. “We did against one of the best pitchers around … Sammy had a good fastball early in the game, and late in the game he found his breaking pitch.”
You couldn't tell Holder hadn't pitched a game since he struck out eight Russell hitters in a 9-0 home win April 22. Monday, he threw 98 pitches — 67 for strikes — and only three left the infield.
“Our pitching coach, Tim Nelson, and I, we put together a little bit of a game plan, keeping it in on their hands,” Holder said.
Holder struggled for part of the second inning — he walked first baseman Tyler Morris (who later stole second) and second baseman Trey Mills. In between, he struck out center fielder Tristan Brown and catcher Nick Collier and finished by fanning right fielder Cody Gollihue.
Holder said he didn't stride out enough on his lead left leg, and Lykins said he wasn't following through.
“I was a little rusty. I left a lot of balls up,” Holder said. “I was frustrated early, but finally I settled down.”
Raceland (15-10, 1-3 in the 63rd District) freshman pitcher Nathaniel Davidson retired the first five Lions he saw before first baseman Isaac Weddington's opposite-field two-out single to right in the second. Davidson then threw out center fielder Devon Duncan on a grounder for the third out.
“(Davidson's) started to hit some spots with his fastball. He's getting a lot better command with that,” Vanderhoof said. “And he's really starting to throw his off-speed pitches instead of just slowing his arm up.”
Holder struck out four over the second and third innings, and no ball left the infield until left fielder Alec Risner's fourth-inning single.
Davidson retired seven straight between the fourth and sixth. Lykins said Davidson “kept us off-balance.”
“I asked Coach Nelson earlier, 'What's (Davidson's) name? Is it Cy Young?'” Lykins said. “I mean, he looked great out there.”
Lewis County (12-8, 4-1) solved Davidson in the third. Evans started with a one-out double, but he only made it to third because he wasn't sure Holder's double would split Brown and Gollihue.
“That's on me,” Lykins said. “I was trying to tell Sammy to hold up, and Austin, he thought I was talking to him. That was on me.”
The miscommunication didn't matter — a Wade Adams sacrifice scored Evans, and it became 2-0 when Doyle singled Holder home.
The Lions and Rams complete their home-and-home district series at 6 p.m. today in Raceland. Vanderhoof wasn't sure who would start, and Lykins likely will go with senior Daulton Mason.
“Daulton has started a couple games for us,” Lykins said. “He threw a (three-hit) shutout for us against Ashland (April 19) down here. We hope to get four (innings) out of him. He's one that could give us four. He could give us a complete game.”
RACELAND 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
LEWIS CO. 002 000 x — 2 6 2
Davidson and Collier; Holder and Wallingford. W — Holder. L — Davidson. 2B — Evans (LC), Holder (LC).