Trailing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Boyd County coach Brandon Ramsey knew exactly what his team needed to do — get Robbie Shivel one more at bat.
“We knew we were in the six-hole, which made Robbie the fifth guy up so we knew if he made it up there would at least be two guys on and at best we have already pushed a run across,” Ramsey said. “He has been a three-year starter, and you just know if he comes up good things are going to happen.”
A good thing did indeed happen as Shivel laced a game-winning, line drive double over the head of the Cooper left fielder. It not only gave the Lions a 5-4 victory Saturday evening over Cooper, but also a perfect 3-0 record in the Lions’ annual Derby Classic.
Boyd County took care of Lawrence County 6-2 on Thursday night, and battled past Lincoln County 3-2 on Friday night.
Why was Ramsey so confident his leadoff hitter would deliver?
Three simple reasons.
“He is our senior, he is our leader, and he is one of our best hitters,” the coach said of his second baseman, who was 2-for-4 on the night.
The Lions (17-11) were able to get to Shivel thanks to two quality at bats by Billy McCoy and Zane Purscelley.
McCoy, who also worked six strong innings on the mound striking out seven, earned his way on to first the hard way, taking Jaguars’ relief pitcher Jaelin Schumacher’s 1-2 offering off the lower back. Purscelley then worked a two-out, eight pitch walk.
Purscelley, who motored all the way around from first to score the winning run, was very productive from his No. 9 spot in the batting order. It was his two out single to left field in the third inning that jump started the Lions’ three-run frame.
“When we put up those three runs, he got that big hit off of a left-hander which was good to see,” Ramsey said. “And in the eighth he was able to work a walk and push the pitcher. He isn’t a very big guy, so sometimes he can be hard to throw strikes to.”
Trevor Mullins plated Purscelley in that third inning with a single to left field. Dylan Grimm’s single up the middle two batters later scored Shivel and Mullins.
After cruising through the first three innings, McCoy found himself in some trouble in the fourth.
A leadoff walk to Jared Blank gave the Jaguars their third base runner of the game, which was quickly followed by their first hit of the game, an A.J. Collins single to left field.
One batter later, Cooper had its first run when Hunter Dunn singled up the middle. Collins scored again on a fielder’s choice.
The Jaguars (11-16) tied the game in the top of the sixth after catcher Jacob Barnwell’s throw to third to try and catch Collins stealing, sailed off the glove of the Lions’ third baseman and into left field.
It was a suicide squeeze that gave Cooper the lead in the first extra inning. Pinch hitter Colin Hathorn bunted the ball right back to the mound, but Barnwell opted to get the sure out at first after the ball momentarily slipped through his fingers.
“They executed it well, and when you execute a suicide squeeze well there isn’t much you can do about it,” Ramsey said. “The good thing is once they executed it, we did a good job of still getting the guy at first, which kept the inning from ballooning on us and gave us a chance to win in the bottom of the eighth.”
With a runner still in scoring position at third, Barnwell induced a groundball to second base to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Barnwell struck out four over the final two innings to earn the win.
COOPER 000 201 01 — 4 6 2
BOYD COUNTY 003 000 02 — 5 7 2
Doerman, Schumacher (7) and Tienkin. McCoy, Barnwell (7) and Barnwell, West (7). W – Barnwell. L – Schumacher. 2B: Shivel (BC)
LINCOLN COUNTY 100 001 0 — 2 3 2
BOYD COUNTY 110 100 0 — 3 7 5
Estep, Day (2) and Greer. Grimm, Patton (7) and Barnwell. W – Grimm. L – Estep. S – Patton.