The weather might not have cooperated, but Tuesday marked the opening night of the baseball season in the area.
Lawrence County scored four runs in the seventh on its way to defeating Raceland 6-1 at Raceland-Worthington High School.
Even with chilly weather — temperatures were in the low 40s — Bulldogs coach Travis Feltner said it was good to get the season started.
“We were supposed to play Saturday and it got canceled and it was a beautiful day,” Feltner said. “Now we come out here in pretty tough conditions, but it’s good to get the first one under your belt, win or lose.”
Lawrence County took an early lead in the second inning, using Feltner’s small-ball strategy. Adam Cavins hit the ball through the shortstop hole created by a hit-and-run.
That first run was the perfect example of what Feltner wants his team to do — create scoring opportunities with baserunning, bunting and patience at the plate.
But through six innings, Lawrence County managed just two runs and held just a one-run lead.
“We had a runner on third three different times with less than two outs and didn’t get them in,” Feltner said. “That’s the difference between a 5-1 game and a 2-1 game.
“But I like what we do and I think our kids have bought in. It didn’t fall for us early, but we had the big inning late.”
In the seventh, small ball started to work, as two walks and an error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases for the Bulldogs.
Cavins picked up his second RBI with a walk, Chase Coverdale hit a run-scoring single and then another run scored on a balk.
As the offense picked up, Feltner felt his team was starting to feed off the emotion of Lawrence County’s third pitcher in the game.
“I attributed it to our senior Brandon Stevens,” Feltner said. “He came in during a tight game and he was fired up. He doesn’t throw hard, but he throws well, located and he pitched with good positive emotion.”
After starter Ryan Kingsmore and reliever Eric Salyers went two innings apiece for the Bulldogs, Stevens closed out the game on an absolute tear.
He faced nine batters in three innings and struck out eight. The three Lawrence County pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts and allowed only two Raceland hits.
“David Michaels, their pitching coach, called a tremendous game today,” Raceland coach Randy Vanderhoof said. “All three of their pitchers had good command on a cold day like today. Those three guys threw it really well.”
Raceland starter Zayne Sammons had a strong outing, going four innings while giving up just two hits, one earned run and striking out five.
Sammons had to deal with five Rams’ errors while on the mound, and watched as Raceland had seven overall.
“Zayne went about 10 pitches over what we wanted him to throw today,” Vanderhoof said. “He had great command on a day like today, especially against a really good team like Lawrence. Lawrence is a really good team.”
Lawrence County, after failing to make the 15th Region Tournament last season, is looking to return to the top of the competitive 57th District.
Feltner said getting the first one was nice, but the season is just starting.
“It’s great and winning is better than losing,” Feltner said. “It’s one game of many. We’ll just take it one game at a time in building toward the postseason. It’s exciting to get started though.”
LAWRENCE 011 000 4 — 6 4 0
RACELAND 001 000 0 — 1 2 7
Kingsmore, Salyers (3), Stevens (5) and Rice; Sammons, Morris (5), Snyder (7) and Tolliver. WP—Salyers. LP—Sammons. 2B—Adams (R), Rice (LC).