By John Lachmann
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After battling back from multiple-run deficits in a regional semifinal and the championship game last week, Scott did not have another comeback left.
The Eagles generated scoring chances but were unable to solve South Laurel sophomore right-hander Braden Miller, as the Eagles fell, 4-1 in the first round of the state tournament at Whitaker Bank Park on Monday.
“We had our chances and we just really didn’t execute on some occasions, and in a game like this you have to be able do that,” Scott coach Jeff Trame said.
With two outs in the top of the first, Scott seniors center fielder Josh Castleman and Blake Gay belted consecutive singles, but a groundout ended the inning.
In the top of the third, senior shortstop Reed Spata was hit by a pitch with one out, but the Cardinals turned a difficult 4-6-3 double play on a sharp shot up the middle by senior right-hander Nick Brinkman.
South Laurel finally broke through in the bottom of the third after the first two hitters were retired. After the Cardinals singled and drew a walk, junior Daniel Neal ripped a single up the middle to make it 1-0.
With runners at the corners, South Laurel pulled off a double steal to score another run, and junior first baseman Zach Allen smacked a base hit to right to extend the Cardinals’ lead to three.
Scott got one run back in the top of the fifth. Freshman second baseman Jake Ohmer led off the inning with a single and was bunted to second by senior right fielder Ben Osborne.
Senior pinch hitter Nick Thurza ripped a single up the middle to plate Ohmer, making it 3-1. Spata walked, giving the Eagles men at first and second.
But after Brinkman bunted the runners over to second and third, Castleman hit a towering pop-up to shortstop that ended the threat. No other Scott hitter would reach base, as Miller mowed down the final seven batters he faced.
In the bottom of the sixth, South Laurel added an insurance run on a single by senior Brennan Miller.
The Eagles had the 7-8-9 hitters up in the seventh, and with the top of Scott’s order being deadly in the playoffs, the Cardinals retiring the side in the order in the final frame was huge.
“We weren’t able to turn our order around another time,” Trame said. “We got to the last batter and we couldn’t get back to the top. Those guys have really been pounding the ball... I think if we get one more shot at it, we have a chance, but we weren’t able to turn it over enough to get those guys four swings.”
SCOTT 000-010-0—1 5 0
S. LAUREL 003-000-X—4 8 2
WP: Miller (7-2) LP: Brinkman (4-4). HITTING LEADERS: SL—Neal 2-3; Allen 2-3; Bra. Miller 2-3, 2B. SC—Castleman 2-3. RECORDS: South Laurel 28-8, Scott 25-15.