The Cougar baseball team opened its season last Tuesday with a scrimmage game at Hart County and they made it a successful start as they defeated the Raiders 11-7 in a game ended after six innings.
It was a tough game to watch as the pitchers from both teams struggled with control in the first action of the season. In all, pitchers from the two teams combined to walk 20 batters, 12 by Hart County pitching and eight by Grayson County. In addition, each side had a hit-batsman. The game was called after the sixth inning as three hours had elapsed from the start.
The Cougars definitely got the better of the Raiders at the plate. Grayson County had seven hits in the game while the Raiders could manage only two. Hunter Young had a pair of hits and scored twice for the Cougars. Jacob Vincent also had a pair of hits and drove in two runs. Grayson County might have made it even more of a runaway, but they wound up stranding 11 base-runners.
The Cougars got off to a good start by sending 10 men to the plate and scoring five times in the top of the first inning. Starting pitcher Riley Mudd helped himself with a run-scoring single and catcher Parker Cain drove in another run with a ground out. Two runs crossed the plate following wild pitches, while another scored on a passed ball.
The KHSAA has new rules which will be enforced this season dealing with pitch counts on the arms of young hurlers. If any pitcher throws more than 25 pitches in a game, he must then have one full day of rest before he can pitch again. With that in mind, first-year head coach Gavin Logsdon was careful in using his pitchers in this scrimmage contest.
Mudd started for the Cougars and he quickly used up his allotment of pitches in the first inning, walking three of the first four batters he faced and giving up a run on a wild pitch.
Logsdon brought in Braxton Hodges in relief at that point, and the sophomore right-hander walked the first two batters he faced, bringing in another Raider run to make it 5-2. He then struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Grayson County added another run in the second inning to make it 6-2. Landon Nichols walked leading off the inning, stole second base, then moved to third on a ground out by Hunter Shiarella. Nichols later scored following a wild pitch.
The Cougars made it 7-2 with another run in the third inning. Cain walked leading off the inning and was replaced on the bases by senior Josh Meridith, who promptly stole second base. With two outs, Vincent hit a slow roller up the middle. Meridith never hesitated as he rounded third and headed for home on the play. Meridith scored as the late throw home skipped away.
The Raiders added another run after two were out in the bottom of the third. Grayson County’s third pitcher of the day, Chandler England, walked Zack Highbaugh with two outs and Logsdon brought in Shiarella in relief. Shiarella hit Zack Cottrell with a pitch, putting runners at first and second.
Pitcher Jacob Turley followed with a ringing double into the gap in right-center bringing home Highbaugh to make it 7-3. Shiarella then struck out Zach Groce to end the inning.
The Cougars made it 10-3 with three more runs in the fifth inning. With one out, two walks and a wild pitch put runners at second and third for Vincent, an extra hitter in the lineup. Vincent picked on a 2-2 pitch and drove a liner into right to score Gage Akridge and send Rylee Shoemaker to third.
After Vincent stole second to put runners at second and third, Nichols walked, his third of the game, to load the bases. Walks to England and Shiarella followed to drive in two more runs.
The Raiders added an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth off Akridge in relief. Akridge walked Ethan Powell leading off the inning, and Powell later stole second. On an attempted pickoff at second, Akridge and Nichols at short got their signals crossed on a pickoff attempt and Akridge threw the ball into centerfield past an empty second base, sending Powell to third.
When the throw from England, in center, got away at third, Powell scored on the error to make it 10-4.
Grayson County added its final run in the top of the sixth. Hunter Young led off with a single to center, then reached second base when the throw back to the infield was errant. Hodges followed by roping a ball down the line in right that went for a double and drove in Young to make it 11-4.
Sophomore right-hander Jack Davis went to the mound to pitch the sixth and was not treated well by his teammates, who committed four errors behind him. A walk and an infield hit, along with the Cougar errors, led to three more Raider runs. Davis then closed out the game by striking out Powell with another runner in scoring position.
The Cougars are scheduled to begin the regular season next Tuesday as they travel to Louisville to take on Eastern at 6 p.m.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.