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Anderson registers 'needed' win over Scott

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By John Herndon

The smiles and sighs might have been all the interview needed Tuesday night.

They were silent, yet shouted, "We needed this one."

Anderson County rallied from an early five-run deficit to post an 8-6 victory over visiting Scott County on the Bearcats' Senior Night. But perhaps more important than giving their seniors a win in their final home game, the victory snapped Anderson's four-game losing streak.

"This was a big win," Anderson coach L.W. Barnes said with a major emphasis on "big."

"It is great for the kids to feel how it feels to win one like this," Barnes continued. "We have lost a lot of close games this year, but tonight, everyone contributed and everyone played hard. It was really good for the kids to win that way."

Anderson improved to 14-15.

Ironically, it was sophomore that stole some of the spotlight as lefty Kyle DeLong picked up the win, going 5 innings and giving up one run.

"I can't say enough about DeLong's performance," Barnes said. "He has been battling some back problems and has struggled some but tonight, he shut them out for 4 innings. That is a good ball club and Kyle did a great job to shut them down."

Delong gave up 4 hits, walked 3 and struck out 3, but only had three balls hit to the outfield after coming on in relief of Shane Mink, who pitched the first two innings.

Delong repeatedly had the Cardinal batters off balance with a wicked curve and a changeup that almost appeared to stop in mid-air.

Scott, which fell to 18-12, sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring 5 runs in the top of the second. Joey Valdez, hitting in the eight spot, getting the big knock with a 2-run homer over the left field fence. Valdez would go 2-for-3 with 3 rbi for the contest.

But Anderson came back with 3 in the bottom of the second, then after spotting the Cardinals a run in the third, 3 more in the bottom of the inning to tie things. Luke Hawkins delivered a single in the second to score Jeremy Turpin and Jordan Alves. Courtesy runner Shawn Bryant also scored on a Scott error.

Jacob Russell stroked another 2-run single in the third, scoring Jacob Brown and Alves. Alves might have had the big play in the inning when he beat out a bunt for a hit with one out. Miah Burford scored on the play.

Anderson finally took the lead in the fourth when Ryan Pike singled, stole second and came home on Turpin's single. Turpin ended with 2 hits in four plate appearances. Anderson scored an insurance run in the fifth when Russell and Hawkins executed a delayed double steal.

Hawkins, on first, broke for second, then got hung up between bases. Russell, on third, broke for home, drawing a throw far too late. Hawkins ended up at second.

"This was the most fun I have had coaching in 2 years," said Barnes, who had been visibly perturbed at the Bearcats' implosion the night before. "It was a lot of fun, we moved people around. We had to remember who was where, but it was fun."

It had to be enjoyable coming off a game when Anderson had 5 errors in the final two innings in a 10-5 extra inning loss to Franklin County.

"(Monday) was one of the greatest team meltdowns I have ever seen," Barnes said. "Everybody had a part in it, everyone from spots 1 through 9. But tonight, everyone contributed. If the kids learn to believe in themselves, we can still be very tough."

Anderson might have gotten even a bit more of a shot in the arm the following night, when Scott defeated Shelby County, which is expected to play Anderson for the 30th District championship and is the favorite in the Eighth Region.

"We know we can do it but we had lost some tough games and were beginning to have some self-doubt and had lost confidence," Barnes said. "This one feels good."