Commonwealth Journal

Local Sports

May 14, 2012

Warriors top Pulaski in Scott McAninch Memorial

Somerset — Over the past three weeks, not a single baseball team inside the 12th Region had been any hotter than the Southwestern Warriors or the Pulaski County Maroons.

Heading into their annual Breast Cancer Awareness Classic matchup on Saturday night at PC Field, both Danny Masten’s Maroons and Alex Eaton’s Warriors had been racking up wins seemingly every day regardless of the opponent.

Southwestern brought an impressive 22-11 record into Saturday night’s clash between these two county rivals, winning 11 out of their last 14 outings.

PC meanwhile brought a 20-11 mark into the game, winners of nine of its last 11 contests, so something had to give on Saturday evening, and give it did.

The Warriors took advantage of four Pulaski County errors, got some timely hitting with runners on the base paths, and got an outstanding performance on the mound from Zack Turpin, and as a result, it was Southwestern holding back the Maroons by a 6-3 score.

“Any time in high school baseball, most of the time the game will come down to errors, and we did take advantage of some of their (Pulaski County) errors tonight,” stated a very happy coach Eaton after the contest.

“It happened to us this morning when we got beat by Marion County, and that was because we didn’t make plays and committed three errors in the seventh inning of that game, and it cost us a win,” continued the SWHS coach. “In high school baseball, you’ve just got to make the routine plays. Pulaski County is a class team, and they are a team that we feel like we may run into in the region. I think you’ve got to tip your hat to both (Zack)Turpin  and (Jake) Barrish because they both threw it really well tonight. We were just fortunate to be able to take advantage of the few mistakes that Pulaski made.”

One of those Maroon errors came in the top of the first inning, when the Warriors grabbed a 1-0 lead on PC and pitcher Jake Barrish.

Trevor Howard and Logan Starnes had back to back one-out singles, and Howard came home when Ricky Shepherd hit into a force play at second base, but Taylor Gover’s throw to first in an attempt to turn the double play sailed wide of first baseman Kellan Jones, allowing a run to cross the plate.

With Turpin and Barrish hooked up in a great pitcher’s duel, the score remained 1-0 in favor of Southwestern until the top of the fifth frame, when the Warriors scratched out a pair of runs for a 3-0 lead over the Maroons.

Meanwhile, PC had its chances early on against Turpin, but couldn’t come up with that one, clutch hit.

Pulaski County got singles from Jacob Denney and Kody Johnson in the home half of the second inning with two outs, but Turpin got Tyler Wesley on a ground out ending the threat.

In the third inning, PC got back to back two-out singles from catcher Aaron Smith and Barrish, but Turpin once again avoided trouble by retiring Eric Jones on a grounder to first base holding the Maroons scoreless at that juncture.

“It’s like I just told our guys, you can’t make this game bigger than it is,” stated PC head coach Danny Masten after the contest.

“It is a cross-town rivalry game, but all it is in the end is a baseball game,” continued the PC skipper. “Missed opportunities, errors – they beat us at Somerset, they beat us at Rockcastle County, and now tonight they beat us against Southwestern. All you have  to do is clean that stuff up and make the plays that you’re supposed to make, and you’ve always got a chance. Tonight, we just didn’t give ourselves a chance, and like all good teams will do, Southwestern took advantage and made us pay for the mistakes that we made.”

Already leading PC 1-0 through four innings of play, Southwestern came up with that clutch, two-out hit in the top of the fifth inning to expand its lead over Barrish and the Maroons by a 3-0 margin.

Thomas Howard worked Barrish for a one-out walk – the first walk of the night for either club – and one out later, leadoff hitter Elijah Hainey tripled to the gap, extending the Southwestern lead out to 2-0.

Trevor Howard followed Hainey by reaching safely on an error by Jones at shortstop who couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly, and Southwestern had 3-0 lead.

In the top of the seventh frame, after PC had cut the deficit to 3-2 thanks to a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth without the benefit of a basehit, Southwestern took advantage of arguably, the biggest miscue of the night by the Maroons.

With the bases loaded and two out, Turpin helped his own cause with a hard hit single to right field on a 3-2 pitch from Barrish that drove in one run, however right fielder Dustin Vaught allowed the ball to slip under his glove, allowing two more runs to cross the plate, while allowing Turpin to go all the way to third base on the two-base error.

Pulaski County in the home half of the inning countered that score, thanks to a run-scoring single by Gover, which eventually allowed Barrish to come to the plate with the potential tying run.

However, Turpin retired Barrish on a routine fly ball ending his night with seven strong innings of work on the mound, while giving Southwestern the 6-3 victory.

Heading into Saturday night’s clash, Pulaski had won four of the last five meetings against Southwestern, and while the win over the Maroons was one that he was very pleased about, Eaton pointed out that playing PC in the final game of the Scotty McAninch Memorial Classic, as well as combining it with the Breast Cancer Awareness Classic, that was all that mattered to him when all was said and done.

“This whole tournament – the Scotty Mac Tournament, and we doubled it up this year with the Breast Cancer Awareness Game, was just awesome,” stated Eaton afterwards.

“Scotty (McAninch) was a dear, dear friend to a lot of us – he was more than a coach to most of us, and he was a brother to one of my best friends in the world,” remarked the Warrior skipper. “There are a lot of people around the state that miss Scotty, and it’s hard to come to this field with the memories that we have of Scotty. It was very special to do this tournament in his honor. Plus, to combine this game with the Breast Cancer Awareness Game is great. My family has been affected with breast cancer, and anything we can do to bring attention to it and try to find a cure is something that we’re all glad to be a part of.”

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