By John Lachmann
LEXINGTON, Ky. – We will find out how good Simon Kenton fares against the best baseball teams in the state in the next couple of days. What is undeniable is the Pioneers are among the best statewide at generating weather delays.
After numerous stoppages in the regional tournament, Simon Kenton’s state quarterfinal vs. Hazard at Whitaker Bank Park on Wednesday was suspended because of lightning and rain in the seventh inning with the score 0-0.
It will be resumed at noon on Thursday with two out and no one on in the bottom of the seventh with Pioneers senior catcher Michael Mundy at the plate.
Junior right-hander Robert Smith worked six strong innings for Simon Kenton, allowing just four hits and a walk while fanning four. He was relieved by junior righty Sean Lawrence, who navigated a rocky top of the seventh to keep the game scoreless.
Offensively, the Pioneers did not capitalize on their scoring chances. Simon Kenton has left nine men on base and is 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Bulldogs’ best opportunity off of Smith came in the first inning. After he inducing a groundout to open the game, senior shortstop J.T. Haynes reached on an error and sophomore catcher Cole Ratliff followed with a single.
But Haynes was picked off of second, 2-4-5, and Smith recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
The next four innings, Smith surrendered just one baserunner, with that coming on another Ratliff single in the fourth, and he was caught stealing.
In the top of the sixth, sophomore left fielder Cody Cumbow belted a one-out single and was bunted to second. Smith walked Haynes, and Ratliff – 2-for-2 with two solid singles – hammered a pitch to left that was caught.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers had at least one runner aboard each inning but were unable to generate a clutch hit.
Mundy doubled with two out in the first and was stranded. Senior left fielder Grant Wassom singled and advanced to second on a bobble to lead off the second but the next three Simon Kenton hitters were retired. It was first and second with one out in the third and again back-to-back outs.
In the fifth senior right fielder Travis Bryson reached on an error and was balked to second. One out later, Mundy was intentionally walked but Lawrence popped to short.
And in the sixth, senior third baseman Tyler Smith lined a base hit with one out and advanced to second on a groundout, but after an intentional walk, Robert Smith fanned.
Robert Smith gave up a leadoff single in the top of the seventh and was lifted after 79 pitches. Lawrence induced a groundout force and recorded a strikeout looking before making things interesting.
Seventh and eighth-place hitters freshman third baseman Cody Akemon and freshman DH Connor Whitaker – 0-for-2 each with neither making good contact – both worked walks despite falling behind early in the count.
But Lawrence finally retired Cumbow on a grounder to third, ending the inning.
Hazard right-hander Ryan Smith retired Bryson on a grounder to first and got center fielder junior center fielder Price Burge to pop to shortstop before lightning in the distance forced the game’s stoppage.
Then the rain came, postponing the remainder of this game and the entire South Warren-South Laurel game, which was supposed to follow.
The good news for the Pioneers is Ryan Smith will not be eligible to pitch when the game resumes. He worked 6 2/3 innings, allowed four hits and three walks – two intentional – and struck out eight.
HAZARD 000-000-0—0 4 2
S.KENTON 000-000-0—0 4 1
HITTING LEADERS: H—Ratliff 2-3. SK—Mundy 2B. RECORDS: Hazard 27-13, Simon Kenton 23-16.