For at least a night, baseball was again fun at Lewis County.
The reason: Thursday’s 3-0 win over East Carter in the second annual David Iery Classic.
So why were the Lions elated? Was it junior pitcher Sammy Holder’s 12 strikeouts? Or Lewis County ending a two-game losing streak? Or improving to 14-7? Or snapping East’s 4-game winning streak?
Yes, yes, yes and yes.
“It’s a blast,” Holder said. “New season, new start, just coming out and playing baseball like we know we can … We’re back on track, and we’ll be fine.”
Lewis County coach Keith Prater thought his team was a lot more relaxed.
“Absolutely I thought we did,” Prater said. “The thing was, that was a good ballgame right there, and we kept our composure and (were) able to finish pretty strong … It seemed like we wanted to be here a little bit more; we were excited to be playing baseball again.”
Which was four time zones different from Tuesday. Lewis County, the defending 63rd District champions, had just lost, 4-2, to district rival Greenup County — the fifth time the Lions took and lost a lead this season.
Afterward, Prater spent nearly 45 minutes reminding his players they were still a good team, followed by a practice until around 11:30 p.m. — for which the Lions asked.
Lewis County listened Thursday.
Holder improved to 5-2 for the year with 59 strikeouts — he has walked just 13, given up 12 earned runs and 35 hits. He considers himself a power pitcher, but last night he mixed in significantly more curveballs and change-ups.
“We had to mix it up,” Holder said. “East Carter’s a good hitting team. I tried to keep them off balance as much as possible.”
Holder threw 117 pitches, including 74 strikes. Prater said Holder was able to throw so many breaking balls because he uses a less-taxing over-the-top motion rather than sidearm of three-quarter delivery.
East coach Jeremiah Shearer said leaving eight runners on base — including six in scoring positions — didn’t help, either.
“We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed to,” Shearer said. “We didn’t do a very good job of running the bases, either, a lot of hesitation.”
Holder and East freshman starting pitcher Jordan Walburn persevered through first-inning trouble. East stranded a runner at third when Holder struck out Austin Wells and induced Cody McDavid’s weak pop to shortstop, while Walburn gave up a Levi Clark single before left fielder Cory Christy lined to shortstop.
East’s (11-11) fourth-inning rally fizzled because Christy’s throw off McDavid’s single cut down courtesy runner Chandler Duncan at third base and died when Holder’s curveball caught Zack Cathey looking at strike three.
In the sixth, Duncan — running for catcher Austin Wells, who reached first on an error — stole second, but Davis erased him at third when he took off on Holder’s errant pickoff attempt. In the bottom of the frame, Lewis County shortstop Trenton Walker added a two-run double to left off East reliever Cole Brammer, which scored Jordan McCann and Jordan Doyle.
NOTE: Yesterday’s game honored Iery, a senior second baseman on the 1989 Lions team who became a quadriplegic from the chest down after sliding headfirst into home plate during an April 1, 1989 game at East. Iery said it took about a year to fully cope with what happened, and he now raises 40 head of Gelbvieh cattle on his family’s 400-acre farm in Quick’s Run, about 10 miles west of Vanceburg.
“I still love the game,” Iery said. “I’m glad (Prater) came up with the idea for the game … I wanted to do something and keep busy. You don’t want to give up.”
EAST CARTER 000 000 0 — 0 3 3
LEWIS CO. 010 002 x — 3 5 2
Walburn, Brammer (6) and Wells. Holder and McCann. W-Holder. L-Walburn. 2B-Thompson (LC), Christy (LC), Walker (LC).