There couldn’t have been a better way for Greenup County to start the 2013 baseball season.
The Musketeers defeated district rival Russell 3-2 on Tuesday night in their season opener. It also gives them a leg up on district seeding.
Greenup County coach Greg Logan had the perfect description for Tuesday’s victory: “a double-barrel win.”
“With it being opening day and a district seeding game, it’s twice as important for us,” Logan said.
The Musketeers received a strong outing from starting pitcher Seth Boyle. The senior picked up the win after giving up three hits, striking out four and walking none in five innings.
With chilly weather setting in, Logan said all he wanted from Boyle was a strong outing to start the season.
“I wanted for him to try and at least go five,” Logan said. “I don’t know if Nolan Ryan can make the ball curve in this weather. I thought Seth battled hard, but he relied on one pitch. But he gutted it out.”
Boyle struggled through the first three innings, which included a 19-pitch first inning in which he worked with a full count twice.
The command issues caught up with Boyle in the third, when a hit-by-pitch put the leadoff runner on. The runner scored on a wild pitch two batters later.
Russell added another run in the third on a Troy Huffine sacrifice fly to take an early 2-0 lead over Greenup County.
“I was too hyped,” Boyle said. “I was leaning out in front and I wasn’t staying back. Around the end of the third, fourth, fifth inning I slowed down and didn’t try to put everything I had in it.”
Boyle went three-up, three-down in both the fourth and fifth. By that point in the game, he had a lead to protect, thanks in part to his bat.
After Russell scored two in the third, Greenup County answered in the bottom of the inning with three runs.
A Red Devils’ error allowed Greenup County’s leadoff hitter on base. Boyle brought him home with a shot to the left-center field gap that had Russell’s left fielder and center fielder collide in mid-air as they tried to make a play on the ball.
“I thought it was going to be close,” Boyle said. “I was just running as hard as I could to see how far I could get.”
Casey Stiltner followed with an RBI single past the first baseman, then a Jonathan Brown double brought home the third and final run.
Boyle finished the game 2-for-3 with two doubles, Stiltner went 2-for-3 and Korey Morris was 2-for-3 for the Musketeers.
Logan was impressed with how hard his team hit the ball in the third inning, but in true coach fashion he pointed out his team still left the bases loaded.
“That’s what you want to see — squaring up on the ball and making solid contact,” Logan said. “I thought we swung the bat really wel tonightl. If we take anything out of this game, it’s we can’t leave bases loaded with one out. That’s the time you drive in two or three more.
“That’s what we need to focus on is when we get the opportunity, take it and build on the lead.”
Greenup County’s three-run third inning was the only blemish of the game for Russell starter Justin Fraley. The sophomore threw a complete-game six innings.
Usually at the back of Russell’s rotation, Fraley could see more meaningful time on the mound if Russell coach Mike Martino continues to see efforts like Tuesday.
“I’m not so sure he’s going to be in the back of the rotation very long,” Martino said. “He knows how to pitch. If he keeps doing what he did tonight, he’s going to go up in the rotation pretty quickly.”
Russell struggled to string hits together and didn’t even record a base hit after the third inning.
Russell and Greenup County will meet again tonight at Greenup County High School because the 63rd District will be playing back-to-back games series throughout the year. Russell cannot host the game because of weather affecting field renovations.
RUSSELL 002 000 0 — 2 3 3
GREENUP CO. 003 000 X — 3 7 1
Fraley and Cathey. Boyle, Downing (6) and Hutchinson. WP — Boyle. LP — Fraley. S — Downing. 2B — Boyle 2 (GC); Brown (GC).