Five was the lucky number for Rowan County Tuesday night.
The Lady Vikings used a big fifth inning to score five runs on five hits but had to survive a Russell comeback for a 6-5 victory to earn their fifth road win of the season at Russell High School.
"When you go on the road, winning close, one-run games is extremely important," Rowan County coach Larry Slone said, "because you have to build that kind of character and that you know how to win those games."
The Lady Vikings batted around the lineup as they loaded the bases twice in the decisive fifth frame.
The first three batters reached to begin the inning. Courtsey runner Shelbie Hanson scored first on a fielder's choice. Lindsey Wilson dropped in a single in shallow center field to plate another.
Kendra Holbrook doubled to the wall in the gap in right-center field for a couple of RBIs, and a sacrifice fly from Sara Robinson gave Rowan County a 5-3 lead it held the rest of the way.
"We got a couple of seeing-eye hits and then we got that big hit with the bases loaded with that gapper," Slone said. "That was a big inning. That's unusual to get against good teams, and Russell is a good team."
The Lady Vikings connected on 10 hits for the game. Courtnae Bolander went 2-for-4 and Baileigh Garvin and pitcher Abby Hammond went 2-for-3 and scored a run.
Rowan County (15-12) struck first in the second inning by manufacturing a run without the ball leaving the infield. Robinson drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the inning and eventually made it to third on a groundout and a stolen base.
She scored when Hammond beat out a grounder that bounced past a charging third baseman.
Russell retook the lead with two runs in the third inning on four straight hits that included back-to-back RBI doubles by Sara Hieneman and Mallory Powell.
Emma Ison had three singles and scored a run. Hieneman went 2-for-3 with an RBI and scored twice.
"I am pleased with that effort at the plate," Russell coach Carol Stevens said. "We are making better decisions with what we are swinging at."
Russell kept finding ways to claw back after the Lady Vikings' explosive fifth inning.
Annalee Miller tripled down the left-field line to start the fourth and came home on a groundout.
Russell added one more in the fifth with a sacrifice fly and another in the sixth on an RBI double by Cassie Fultz to close the gap to one.
Emma Ison following Fultz's two-bagger with an infield hit by beating the throw to first base with a feet-first slide. Hieneman walked to load the bases for the Russell's cleanup hitter.
Powell swung and missed at the Hammond offering for the final out to end the Russell threat.
Russell (12-14) went down in order in the seventh to close out the game.
Hammond pitched a complete game for the win. The junior recorded four strikeouts and two free passes. She kept Russell at bay as Rowan County withstood the Lady Devil rally.
Trouble holding on to late leads has plagued Rowan County at times this year.
"We have been struggling with that," Slone said. "We have lost several games this year with the lead with errors late in the game."
Stevens is still waiting for a breakout game from her young team.
"I told them in the huddle I wasn't disappointed in them, just the outcome," Stevens said. "We are still close. Rowan had that big fifth inning and put the bat on the ball. It just didn't work our way."
ROWAN CO. 010 050 0 — 6 10 2
RUSSELL 002 111 0 — 5 9 1
Hammond and Wilson; Powell and Gullett. W-Hammond. L-Powell. 2B-Holbrook (RC), Hieneman (R), Powell (R), Fultz (R). 3B-Miller (R).