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The Central Kentucky Mudcats stood at 10-10 heading into the final week of the summer baseball season while outfielder-pitcher Ryan Pike has been smoking at the plate.
"In 10 years of coaching, I have never seen anyone be in the zone that Ryan is in this summer at the plate. After (last) Wednesday's games, he was hitting right at .600 for the summer with seven home runs. It just seems like every ball he hits is jumping off the bat. He isn't hitting bleeders or bloopers. He is sumply killing the ball every time he is at the plate, even when he gets out. It is just unbelievable."
The Mudcats were to have played at Montgomery County in a double header Monday night after press deadlines and will travel to the Smoky Mountains this weekend for their annual trip to the prestigious Wooden Bat Classic held in the Dandridge, Tenn. area.
Wednesday, the Mudcats used a 6-run fourth to rout visiting Montgomery 9-1 in the first game of a twin bill.
Pike led off the inning with a triple, then came home on Jeremy Turpin's single. Jacob Brown, Shane Mink, T.J. Drury and Trent Miller all drove in runs in the big inning. Pike also had a double in his second plate appearance of the frame.
Pike also pitched a complete game, giving up four hits and striking out three. He did not issue a walk. "It was pretty much Ryan's game at the plate and on the mound," said Copenhaver. "What a final home game for Pike."
The Mudcats also rolled 12-0 in the second game as Daniel Goodlett picked up his fourth win without a loss in the summer while Shane Mink closed things out in the fifth, retiring three of four batters. Mink also recorded a strikeout.
"(Aaron) Burkhead, Mink, Miller and Pike all played their final home games at the field and they all went out in style with each picking up base hits and winning a double header."
Tuesday, the Mudcats split with the Morse Mustangs, based in Danville, winning the first game of the twin-bill 3-2 but taking a 3-1 loss in the nightcap.
"This was our biggest win of the summer," Copenhaver said. "They are an American Legion team as well with 19-year-old players and kids from seven different schools."
Burkhead pitched a complete game giving up two runs on four hits. He walked four and hit a batter but also struck out five. "Aaron didn't have his best stuff but he pitched well enough to beat one of the best teams we will play all summer," Copenhaver said. "Pike, Turpin, Brown and Drury led the offense but this game was all about defense and pitching. You have to play good defense and have good pitching to beat a team like that and we did. It was a big win against a top-notch program."
In previously unreported games, the Mudcats absorbed a 21-11 loss to Ashland and won an 11-1 decision over Thomas Worthington, Ohio, in the Danville Classic.
Pike went 3-for-4 against Worthington with a pair of home runs. Pike powered the Mudcats to a 5-0 lead and they dominated after that. Goodlett went the distance, striking out four and giving up three hits and two walks.
Against Ashland on July 19, neither pitching staff could adjust to what Copenhaver called a "major league umpire's strike zone."
Matt Jones, DeLong and Turpin all pitched but Copenhaver said they "didn't do bad, but (Ashland was) a heck of a team and we were pitching to a coffee can. And we had a couple of errors that you can't make playing a team like that."
A team with some players who had a year of college behind them, Ashland took advantage of the small target, making Mudcat pitching pay. "We just didn't have the firepower to outscore them," Copenhaver said.
Brown went 2-for-4 with a grand slam, a double and six RBI while Pike also went 2-for-4. Mink and Drury also had two hits each.