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Anderson County baseball, 2010 style, might be a lot like the weather in Kentucky. If you don't like what you see, just give it a few minutes.
The Bearcats did not have a turnaround quite that dramatic but two days after being no-hit and committing seven errors at West Jessamine, Anderson rolled to wins over host LaRue County and sixth-ranked Apollo in the Nall's Specialized Hauling Baseball Classic at Hodgenville.
The turnaround was as abrupt as it was unexpected. While LaRue is a perennial Fifth Region power, Apollo is one of the regal names in Kentucky high school baseball. The school of former major leaguer Brad Wilkerson has been to the state final four three times in the last seven years and is considered a threat to win it all in 2010.
But Saturday, Anderson pitcher Jacob Russell might have had his finest hour on the mound as he gave up only three hits over six innings in a 5-0 Bearcat win. The win over Apollo equalied the highest-ranked team Anderson has beaten since the Bearcats knocked off top-ranked Paul L. Dunbar in 2003.
Anderson had beaten Bullitt East, then also ranked sixth, back on March 30 of this season.
“Russell basically dominated the Eagles by controlling the inner part of the plate,” said Anderson coach L.W. Barnes. “He pitched wonderfully.”
Russell had pitched in three innings during the first game, making him ineligible to go in the seventh according to high school pitching rules.
Michael Harley came on to get the save.
Anderson got on the board in the bottom of the third when designated hitter Kyle Rogers ripped a 2-out, 2-run single. Apollo was never closer.
In the fifth, Logan Woodside scored when Landon Case laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, but beat the throw for a hit. With a throwing error on the play, Woodside scored. Matt Fogle later walked with the bases loaded to force in Case.
Anderson's Cole Sayre scored an insurance run when he was balked home.
Case gave Anderson a big day at the plate and on the basepaths, getting two hits and scoring twice. Hunter Coffey went 3-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.
In the first game, Kyle DeLong and Russell combined to throw a one-hitter at a LaRue team that had won six of its last eight games. Delong was working on a no-hitter when he was lifted with two out in the fifth.
“He was really totally dominating until the fifth,” Barnes said.
LaRue took advantage of an Anderson error to get to DeLong in the fifth. With two out and runners on first and third, the Hawks executed a double steal with a run scoring and the runner on first getting back to the back, eluding a rundown.
“After that, Kyle lost a little and uncharacteristically walked three straight,” Barnes said.
Russell came came in, hitting a batter to force in a run that made it 5-3, but Barnes said it was “a terrible call to reward the hitter first base after he leaned his entire body over the plate while being fooled by a curveball.”
Russell struck out the eight-hitter to end the rally, then gave up only hit in the final two innings. He picked off the only LaRue baserunner in the final two innings.
DeLong had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two RBI while Rogers ripped LaRue pitching for three hits in four times up. Granville Hayes added a pair of hits for the Bearcats.
Anderson's defense, an Achilles Heel all year, committed three errors, but Barnes said, “Our pitching was good enough to overcome them.”
Thursday, however, the Bearcats were no-hit by fourth-ranked West Jessamine, 15-0. Colt pitchers Gus Sherrow and Tyler Ward combined to keep the Bearcats off the bases but Anderson's defense did little to help itself.
The Bearcats committed seven errors and West Jessamine used a 13-run fourth to put things out of reach. West Jessamine reached Anderson pitchers Steven Watts and Hunter Coffey for 15 runs on just six hits. West Jessamine stood at 24-4 after the weekend's games.
Barnes said that overcoming a wholesale defensive lapse was one of the keys in the abrupt change.
“The biggest differences (on Saturday) were we had great starting pitching and we didn’t let one error turn into a complete team melt down,” he said.
Anderson, now 13-9, hopes the turnaround continues, as it came at the right time.
“These were two much needed wins,” Barnes said. “Our kids showed more heart and desire than I had seen in a long time. Hopefully we can build on these performances and perform at a high level the last two weeks and get ready for a post season run.”
E-mail John Herndon at firstname.lastname@example.org.