by Doug Eads, CJ Sports Correspondent Commonwealth Journal
After almost a week layoff, the Pulaski County Maroons returned to the diamond on Thursday afternoon, managing to only notch three hits off of Lincoln County’s Logan Young.
Good thing for the homestanding Maroons that Danny Masten and crew had Aaron Smith on the hill.
Smith matched Young pitch for pitch in a classic pitcher’s duel, and when all was said and done, it was homestanding Pulaski County evening its record to 3-3 on the young season with a 2-0 shutout victory over Lincoln County.
“That’s the kind of performance we expect out there this year from Aaron (Smith) — he has to be our horse out there,” stated a very happy Masten after his club won its second game in a row.
“He’s pitched well in both of his games so far this year,” added the PC coach in talking about Smith’s performances so far this year on the mound. “He pitched well last week over at Corbin, and then today he threw the ball really well again, only allowing Lincoln County the one infield hit over his five innings of work.”
Indeed, Smith was the story on the day for PC, throwing five innings, allowing just one infield single to the Patriots, while fanning nine Lincoln County hitters.
Meanwhile, Lincoln County’s Logan Young threw the ball well enough to win in Thursday afternoon’s affair, allowing only three hits to PC in his six innings on the hill.
However, it was a mistake on an 0-2 pitch that cost Young and the Patriots in this one.
With neither team having a base hit through two and a half innings on Thursday, Pulaski County’s Henry Lorman finally got his club off and going, leading off the home half of the third inning with a solid single off of Young.
Tyler Wesley followed Lorman with a bunt back to Young on the mound.
However, the Patriots pitcher fumbled the ball for an error, setting up the Maroons with runners and first and second with nobody out.
After a sacrifice bunt by Dustin Vaught, the Maroons were in position to break through, with runners at second and third and only one away.
However, Young fan-ned Taylor Gover for the second out of the frame, bringing up designated hitter Jacob Denney to the plate.
Denney immediately found himself in an 0-2 hole, but on a day when Young made very few mistakes, his 0-2 pitch to Denney was just that — a mistake.
Denney laced the 0-2 pitch into left center field for an all-important, two-run single, and that would be the only runs PC would need on this day to garner a victory.
“Pitching was dominant today on both sides, and both clubs had trouble at times putting the ball into play,” pointed out coach Masten.
“We took advantage of the one big opportunity we had today there in the third inning,” Masten stated. “We got a couple of guys on and bunted them over, and then we got the big hit from Jacob Denney to drive those two runs home.”
Leading Lincoln County 2-0 through five innings of play, Smith turned the ball over to Blake Burton who came out of the PC bullpen and closed the door on the Pats with two out-standing innings of relief.
Burton fanned three hitters in his two innings of work, and the lone hit he allowed was another infield hit — this one off the bat of Nolan Sanders in the sixth inning.
With the win, PC moved its record to 3-3 on the year, picking up a much-needed win considering the Maroons — like most everybody else — hadn’t played in almost a week due to inclement weather.
“We’ve strung together a couple of wins now, and hopefully we’ll be able to build upon this,” remarked Masten.
“It’s good to get wins, especially against a quality team like Lincoln County,” continued the PC skipper. “Lincoln County is a very good baseball team and they play the game the right way, so for us to get a win over a club like the Patriots is a huge win for us.”
PC returns to action today at home at Noon, as the Maroons will welcome in arch-rival Southwestern to PC Field.