Special to the Times-Tribune
South Laurel and Southwestern came into Thursday evening’s matchup at Warrior Stadium with perfect 3-0 records.
At the end of the night, only one team would remain perfect, while the other would suffer their inaugural loss of the 2014 high school baseball season.
The visiting South Laurel Cardinals would remain the perfect team as they came away with an eight-inning, 6-4 victory over the home standing Warriors.
It was a tough loss to swallow for Southwestern, who overcame an early three-run deficit to send the game into extra innings. Unfortunately for Alex Eaton and company, it would be their first setback of the young season.
“It hurts to come out on the losing end, but hats off to South Laurel — they’re one of the better teams in this part of the state,” said Eaton. “I also feel like we are one of the better teams in this part of the state. It was two good teams going at it. Someone had to lose tonight, and unfortunately it was us.”
South Laurel jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after taking advantage of three Warrior errors in the first inning. Trey Martin, who reached on an error to begin the game, scored on the following at-bat on a double from Daniel Neal. Neal and Zach Allen would both score in the frame to give the Cardinals a three-run lead over Southwestern.
The Warriors tallied their first run of the night in the fourth inning, when Trevor Howard scored on a Lucas Turpin groundout. Howard’s run lessened the South Laurel lead to a pair of runs at 3-1.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with two outs and Brandon Pruitt on the base paths, Warrior sophomore Jacob Burchett came up clutch, sending a ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run. Burchett’s blast would tie the ballgame up at 3-3.
Southwestern would not put any more runs across the plate in the frame, meaning extra innings would be needed to settle a winner of these two baseball programs.
In the top half of the eighth inning, the Cardinals punched in three runs to grab a 6-3 advantage over the Warriors. Tucker Martin and Trey Martin, who both reached on walks, would score on a two-run single from Allen. Neal would tally the Cardinals’ sixth run of the night on a single from Taylor Morris.
Southwestern managed to score only one run in the bottom of the frame, allowing South Laurel to escape with a 6-4 victory. The Warriors’ fourth run was scored by Howard, who was able to make it around the base paths on a single from Brandon Pruitt.
Eaton was upset with the early mistakes of his team, but he was really proud of the way his team fought back after falling behind 3-0 in the first inning. The Warriors finished with five errors on the night, while South Laurel committed one miscue.
“I’m extremely proud of the way we played after the first inning,” said the Warrior skipper. “We kept ourselves in the game, and gave ourselves a chance to win at the end, but we beat ourselves in the first inning by making a few errors — that cost us three runs. You’ve got to make plays to beat good teams.”
Brennan Miller, who pitched the final three innings for South Laurel, earned the victory. Miller had two strikeouts in the winning outing.
At the dish, South Laurel was led by Neal and Allen, who both had two hits apiece. Allen finished with two RBI’s on the night, while Neal had an RBI and a double.
Southwestern’s Chris Lynch was saddled with the loss. Lynch had a pair of strikeouts in as many innings of work for the Warriors.
The Warriors were led in hitting by the pair of Howard and Zach Profitt, who both had two hits each. Burchett finished with a home run and a team-high two RBI’s.
Southwestern (3-1) will look to bounce back from Thursday’s loss with a pair of games today at home. The Warriors will play at noon and again at 4 p.m.
South Laurel’s next contest will be on Monday evening when they will be on the road at Hazard.
South Laurel 6, Southwestern 4
SL 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3—6 7 1
SW 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 1—4 7 5
W – Miller (SL); L – Lynch (SW); 2B – Allen (SL); RBI – Allen 2, Neal, Morris, Vigeant (SL); Burchett 2, Turpin, Pruitt (SW); HR – Burchett (SW)