By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
Pulaski County head baseball coach Danny Masten will be the first person to tell you that his club hasn’t been an offensive juggernaut over the first half of the season.
Instead, PC has used timely hitting, played sound defense, and has gotten some excellent pitching along the way allowing the Maroons to pick up some key wins over the first part of the season.
And, that was the exact formula the Maroons used last night at Charlie Taylor Field to take the upperhand inside the 47th District standings.
Dustin Vaught threw a complete game five-hit shutout against Somerset, while PC took advantage of four Briar Jumper errors, allowing the Maroons to move to 2-0 in the 47th District standings with an impressive, 3-0 win over the Briar Jumpers.
“That seems to be the theme of our year so far — taking advantage of the opportunities that have been put in front of us,” stated a very happy coach Masten, who saw his team move to 7-6 overall on the season with the win.
“I was just looking at our record on the KHSAA website, and how many runs we’ve scored and how many runs that have been scored against us,” Masten remarked. “Teams in our region are up at over 100 runs scored this year, and we’re in the 50’s, but we’re only giving up in the 50’s. We’re not scoring that many runs, but teams aren’t scoring that many runs on us either. I thought (Dustin) Vaught did a great job tonight. He kept Somerset off balance and got them to hit the ball in the air, and we just made the plays behind him.”
Somerset with the loss fell to 10-6 on the year, but more importantly dropped to 1-1 in league play, and it’s been a lack of defense that has hurt Phil Grundy’s club so far this year.
And, those costly errors bit the Jumpers once again last night against PC.
In the top of the first, the Maroons broke through against Somerset lefty Heath Ehrsam, scoring an unearned run thanks to a Jumper error.
After back to back singles by Jacob Denney and Aaron Smith off of Ehrsam, Eric Jones worked the Jumper pitcher for a walk, loading the bases with just one out.
Vaught then came up to the plate with a chance to help himself, and hit a bouncer over the mound.
Haden Fox couldn’t come up with the throw at the first base bag, and due to the first error of the evening by Grundy’s club, PC had a 1-0 lead over the Jumpers.
The score remained that way until the fifth inning, when the Maroons tacked on a pair of runs, thanks to an RBI single from Jones and another Somerset error that allowed another run to score, giving Pulaski a 3-0 lead and Vaught some cushion to work with.
“These guys are juniors and they should be better than this, because some of them are three-year starters,” pointed out an unhappy coach Grundy after the game.
“They take everything for granted, and they never make an adjustment from one at bat to the next one,” added the SHS coach. “I told them that I can’t motivate kids that don’t have any pride. We’re just not aggressive baseball players right now and I’m going to bench some of them tomorrow. Some of them may quit, but at some point you’ve got to find out which kids on your team are motivated to be baseball players.”
Compounding things for Somerset last night was the fact the Jumpers couldn’t get that one big hit off of Vaught.
The PC pitcher stranded 10 Jumper runners on the base paths, while fanning three and walking none, although he did hit four Somerset hitters.
Still, without that key hit with runners on, and another game that saw Somerset guilty of dropping fly balls and committing those four errors, the Jumpers were stymied all night long.
“We talked to our guys before the game about just going out and putting the ball in play,” pointed out Masten.
“This was a big win for us, enabling us to go to 2-0 in the district while picking up a big win on the road,” said the PC coach. “I had came over here as a coach on five occasions and had never one here until tonight, so this is a huge win for our team. We’re now 2-0 in the district, and I don’t think we’re anywhere close to hitting our stride just yet. Hopefully, we can continue to improve and when May rolls around, we’ll be there.”
Ehrsam pitched well enough to win on most nights, surrendering just four hits to PC while allowing only one earned run.
But, again those four errors did in the SHS senior, as the Jumpers dropped their second game in a row with losses to rivals Danville and PC.
“The two games that we had highlighted on our schedule was this week — for the first month and a half to two months of the season — were Pulaski at home and Danville at home — and that’s the effort we got,” lamented Grundy. “And, I’m ashamed of it.”
“I think we’re carrying at bats out to the field with us, and that’s why maybe we’re having so many errors,” added the Jumper skipper. “I think we struggle because they’ve not worked hard enough — they don’t do early work — they don’t do extra work. We do have some guys that are hitting the ball good. Bryson Jones has had a terrific offensive year, (Haden) Fox has had a big offensive year and Addison (Thompson) has had a good offensive year, but there’s a lot more talent here than the results were getting.”
Both PC and Somerset will return to action today.
The Maroons will be at home to host Bell County at 2 p.m., while the Briar Jumpers will travel to London to face South Laurel.
PC 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 — 3 4 2
SHS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 5 4
DOUBLES — (PC) Denney. (SHS) B. Jones
RBI — (PC) E. Jones
WP — D. Vaught
LP — Ehrsam