Count Russell coach Mike Martino among baseball fans looking forward to tonight’s State Tournament game between Boyd County and top-ranked Pleasure Ridge Park.

The start is scheduled for 8:30 at Applebee’s Park in Lexington, with the winner advancing to Friday’s semifinals.

Martino, whose Red Devils broke a school record with 25 wins this season, saw both teams up close this season. Russell went 0-4 against Boyd County, PRP and South Laurel, another State Tournament participant.

“We played a really tough schedule,’’ Martino said. “Boyd County against PRP is a great matchup. Both are excellent teams.’’

Boyd County, the 16th Region Tournament and Semi-State 8 champion, beat Russell twice — 13-1 in the regional semifinals and 12-4 back in early April at Cocoa Expo.

In between, PRP defeated the Red Devils 8-1 at the Lead-Off Classic in Louisville.

“I think Boyd County probably hits the ball a little better up and down the lineup,’’ Martino said. “PRP is a really fast team. The top of their order seems to be a little free-swinging, and then toward the bottom they run. It will be a really good game.’’

Boyd County’s offense is on a roll. Regional tournament MVP Kyle Potter drove in four runs against the Red Devils, while Brennan Sargent doubled, tripled and joined teammates Jon Rakes and Gatlin Barker with three runs apiece.

“Boyd hits the ball well and puts a lot of pressure on you,’’ Martino said. “Pleasure Ridge Park does the same thing.’’

Russell and PRP were tied 1-1 going to the bottom of the fourth inning before the Panthers pulled away on their home field.

“They pushed across a couple of runs in one inning, and then it went from a 3-1 game to a 7-1 game,’’ Martino said. “PRP just took advantage of their opportunities, like Boyd County does.’’

PRP (35-5) is without a home run this season, but that hasn’t stopped the team from scoring runs in bunches. Second baseman Zach Osborne leads the Panthers with a .495 batting average, 36 RBI and 47 runs. Several teammates are close behind on the stat sheet.

Scheduled Boyd County starting pitcher Justin Moore said facing the potent lineup will be a challenge.

“I hear they have a lot of speed and athletic ability,’’ said Moore, who is 7-3 this season while surrendering only eight earned runs. “PRP puts the ball in play and like to move the runners. The key is keeping them off the bases so they can’t steal, hit-and-run and do all the things they like to do.’’

PRP pitchers Wes Walden and Zach Cox limited Russell to four hits. Justin Crawford tops the Panthers’ staff with an 8-2 record. Justin Witt and Chris Dowdle are a combined 10-0, while Cox has won five of six decisions.

Coach Bill Miller considers the team’s pitching depth and defense to be major strengths.

“We have four guys I wouldn’t be afraid to start on the mond the first game, then some others I wouldn’t be afraid to throw at any time,’’ Miller said. “The defense has been very good all year.’’

Boyd County (27-9) also is stocked with quality pitching. University of Kentucky-bound Tyler Gatrell and junior Greg Bowling (5-1) are the front-line starters.

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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