It may not be a double-digit win, but Russell will gladly take a sweep over its district rival.
The Red Devils scored five runs in the sixth inning to defeat Raceland, 8-4, on Tuesday at Russell High School.
After beating the Rams 17-3 on Monday night, Russell coach Mike Martino knew taking a clean sweep over Raceland would be a big momentum-builder for the season.
“You like to see a team come out like that after the game we had (Monday),” Martino said. “We got back home (Monday) night, and before they got off the bus we told them that win wouldn’t mean anything if we didn’t win tonight.”
Raceland wasn’t going to lie down for Russell though, as the Rams put up three runs off Russell starter Jacob McKee in the third inning.
A throwing error and a walk put two runners on and senior Zayne Sammons shot a two-run double into right-center field. Freddie Shepherd brought in Sammons on a sacrifice fly.
While Raceland added more runs, it came from the production of the middle of the lineup in Sammons and Shepherd.
“We have to do a little better job setting the table for those guys,” said Raceland coach Randy Vanderhoof. “Those guys did a better job getting better pitches, but they have to do a better job working the counts in situations. We think our three, four and five can do good things for us as the season goes on.”
Russell scored again in the third before tying the game up in the fourth from the least likely of sources — the bottom of the lineup.
With two runners on, No. 9 hitter Keelan Rice, a freshman, took a fastball over the third baseman’s head to tie the game up at three in the fourth.
“That was huge,” Martino said. “He’s just a freshman and he just dug in and put the bat on the ball and came up big.”
Raceland then took another lead in the fifth after another sacrifice fly by Shepherd, setting up starter Drew Darby for the Rams’ win.
Darby was asked to take the mound after the Rams used five pitchers in Monday’s loss. Darby pitched well enough to keep the Rams in the game, and was in position to earn the win before leaving in the fifth with an injury.
“We didn’t have a lot of arms after Monday,” Vanderhoof said. “Drew is a veteran guy and he tweaked a hamstring there and hopefully we can get him back because he’ll be a big cog for us to do something in postseason play.”
Troy Huffine grounded out to first to score the tying run in the sixth inning. An intentional walk loaded the bases, then another walk to Tate Trimble brought in the go-ahead run for the Red Devils.
Garion Robinson added insurance runs with a two-run double through the left side of the infield and was brought around to score the final run of the inning on a squeeze play by Bryant Cathey.
Russell stands at 2-2 in the district with a two-game series against Lewis County next week. Raceland moves to 0-3 in the district, with one game against Lewis County and a two-game series against Greenup County left.
RACELAND 003 010 0 — 4 4 3
RUSSELL 001 205 X — 8 8 5
Darby, Morris (5) and Tolliver. McKee, Fraley (7) and Cathey. WP — McKee. LP — Morris. 2B — Sammons (Ra.), Robinson (Ru.).
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.