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Trinity takes lead in semi-state series

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Shamrocks convert opportunities in 7-4 win

By John Herndon

LOUISVILLE – Oddly enough, Anderson County might have taken a bit of a confidence boost in a 7-4 loss to Louisville Trinity in the first game of the Semi-state 4 series at Eastern High School.

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“I think we had some bullets tonight,” said Anderson coach L.W. Barnes. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We picked the worst game of the year to play like we did. We’ve played 37 games and this was one of the worst games we have played all year.”

Anderson was officially charged with three errors, all leading to runs. The Bearcats had at least two other plays that could have arguably been scored as errors and had several mental errors that led to at least two other runs.

Barnes has touted the current Bearcats as the best defensive team he has coached in his 11 years at Anderson, making Monday’s glove woes more troubling.

It added up to a tough night for Anderson starter Luke Hawkins, who gave up nine hits, five for extra bases, but pitched gamely. “Considering how the defense imploded, Hawkins did what could be expected,” Barnes said.

But Trinity, now 24-9, also felt it played below par, committing four errors, three leading to runs. Shamrock starter Corey Littrell, a University of Kentucky commitment who came in with an ERA of 0.44, gave up three unearned runs and walked five, but repeatedly made the big pitches to thwart Anderson’s chances of a comeback.

Littrell, a junior, did not overpower the Bearcats, but was effective nonetheless. Anderson stranded eight runners, six in scoring position.

Never did Littrell show why he is considered one of the state’s best more than in the third inning. After Jacob Russell had driven in a run with a bases-loaded single, Littrell fell behind in the count, 3-1, to Hunter Coffey. Littrell came back with breaking pitch and a fastball on the black of the plate to record the strikeout.

“I thought the 3-1 pitch was a very borderline strike, but Littrell made a really good pitch there and got the call,” Barnes said. “Give him credit for a great pitch.”

Most of all, Littrell stifled what looked to be a major uprising by the Bearcats. With two on and one out, he fooled Jeremy Turpin with an off-speed pitch to record the strikeout.

Trinity had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Littrell scored on Grant Epperson’s sacrifice fly.

But Anderson (26-11) appeared ready to rally in the second when Russell, who went 3-for-3 and drove in three runs, singled and Coffey walked to open the inning. But Trinity catcher Brandon Bryan, labeled as one of the state’s best, picked Russell off second and Littrell escaped the inning by striking out Hawkins and retiring Landon Case.

“That was huge,” Barnes sighed. “If we get the bunt down, who knows what happens.”

Instead, it was Trinity putting up four runs in the bottom of the inning with Littrell delivering the big blow, a two-out, two-run triple to make it 5-0.

Trinity added a run in the fourth when Epperson drove home Chris Berry, but the Bearcats got the run back the next inning when Jordan Alves reached on an error and came home on Jeremy Turpin’s single.

The Shamrocks added an insurance run in the fifth before Russell came on to throw 1.2 scoreless innings in relief, but Anderson made it interesting in the seventh.

With one out, Turpin drew a walk theh went to second on an error. Jacob Brown drew a walk from reliever Anthony Armstrong. Both runners swiped bases, paving the way for Russell’s two-run single.

“We played the way we did and were one hit away from having the tying run at the plate,” Barnes sighed.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.