Jacob Barnwell is one fierce competitor. When the opponent is Lawrence County, the game means a little extra.
Thursday night, Boyd County’s sophomore catcher did a number on the 17th-ranked Bulldogs as the Lions won 6-2 in their Derby Classic opener.
Batting a smooth .408 at game time, Barnwell bumped his average higher by smacking a couple of doubles and a single at Larry Addington Field. He drove in two runs and also scored a pair.
“It’s a great way for us to start the tournament,” Barnwell said. “My mom (Linda) is from Lawrence County and I have a lot of relatives down there, so it’s good to beat them. Two of my aunts came and some cousins that played there.”
Another of Barnwell’s cousins, Eric Salyers, is a sophomore for the Bulldogs, who opened the season with 13 consecutive wins.
“Their program has been good for a long time,” Barnwell said.
Lawrence County coach Travis Feltner was unaware of Barnwell’s family ties to Louisa, but already held the standout catcher in high regard. Especially for his strong and accurate arm.
“I told some of our young assistants, he’s as good as I’ve seen,” Feltner said. “He has a bright future. I’ve not seen a kid that young throw like that.”
Lawrence County (17-7) took an early 2-0 lead, but Boyd County senior Corey Sublett settled down after hitting a batter in each of the first three innings.
Sublett, now 3-1, pitched five innings and retired the last eight batters he faced.
“Lawrence came out aggressive and Corey left a couple of pitches high,” Boyd County coach Brandon Ramsey said. “It doesn’t help when you bean a guy to start the game. We talked to him about getting the ball down. He did a good job after that.”
Jason Anders took over in the sixth and worked two scoreless two innings to pick up his fifth save in as many opportunities. Anders leads the Lions’ staff with 12 appearances this season after setting a school record in that category last year.
“Every Day Anders, that’s his nickname,” Barnwell said.
While seniors Sublett and Anders combined to limit the Bulldogs to four hits, Boyd County’s offense banged out 10 hits against freshman starter Austin Bailey and sophomore reliever Josh Cantrell.
Dylan Grimm, who bats in the clean-up spot behind Barnwell, went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Leadoff man Robbie Shivel singled twice and also scored twice.
Grimm and Shivel are both hitting over .400 this spring. Billy McCoy drove in two runs and also reached on a walk.
“Boyd County is always fundamentally sound, and swing it well,” Feltner said. “They have definitely played well the last month.”
Although Lawrence County moved out of the 16th Region several years ago, the two coaches have continued to try to play each other because of mutual respect. Lawrence County’s prom again falls during the Saturday of the Derby Classic, but Ramsey juggled the schedule this year to make it work out for the Bulldogs.
Instead of a two-day format, Boyd County added the Thursday game. Lawrence County also plays East Carter tonight at 6, then returns for a 10 a.m. Saturday matchup with Spring Valley.
Boyd County (15-11) meets Lincoln County in the second game of tonight’s doubleheader. There are four games Saturday.
LAWRENCE 200 000 0 — 2 4 2
BOYD 012 021 x — 6 10 0
Bailey, Cantrell (5) and Rice; Sublett, Anders (6) and Barnwell. W—Sublett. L—Bailey. 2B—Barnwell 2 (BC).