May 16—LOUISA — Two and a half hours after Lawrence County nipped Boyd County in the opener of a matinee doubleheader Saturday on Ethan Whitt's game-ending RBI single, the Lions led 4-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning in the rematch.
Walk-off proof? Hardly.
Undeterred by improbability, the Bulldogs did it again, hanging a five-spot in their final at-bat. Blue Fletcher trotted home on a walk-off wild pitch to cap a dramatic Dawgs sweep of a double-dip at Randy Keeton Field between the teams with the top RPIs in the 16th and 15th Regions.
Lawrence County 5, Boyd County 4
Travis Feltner readily conceded it felt like the Bulldogs — shut out, down four and having only gotten one runner to third base entering the bottom of the seventh inning — stole a win in Saturday's second game.
"A hundred percent," Lawrence County's coach said. "I know (Lions) coach (Frank) Conley's probably like, 'I don't really know what the heck just happened.' I've been there many a time."
Whitt and Will Lafferty opened the home half of the seventh with consecutive doubles, the second of which netted the Bulldogs' first run. Two batters later, Boyd County went to the bullpen with the bases loaded and no outs.
It didn't help. Fletcher was hit by a pitch and Brayden Maynard worked a walk to force in two more runs and Abner Collinsworth produced a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
With the bases loaded again and two outs, a wild pitch got past the Lions' catcher. Fletcher scored from third to win it.
Boyd County hurler Jacob Vanover retired 14 of the first 16 hitters he faced. On the rare occasions the Bulldogs got something going against Vanover in the first six innings, the Lions' defense rose behind him.
With two on and two outs in the fifth, and down 3-0, Lawrence County's Nick Collinsworth singled on the infield. Even with the top of the Bulldogs order due up after Collinsworth, Feltner daringly sent Lafferty home from second — equal parts desperation to generate offense and standard procedure for Lawrence County's pressure-based attack.
But Boyd County shortstop Luke Preston chased down the loose ball and threw a strike to catcher Joe Lusby for the inning-ending out at the plate.
And in the sixth, the Bulldogs got their first two hitters on ahead of Abner Collinsworth, who laced a hot shot bound for left field.
Lions third baseman Jacob Baker corralled the grounder, stepped on third and threw across the diamond for the double play.
"This needs to be in the paper: No. 9 is a stud at third base," Feltner said, referencing Baker by his jersey number. "He was lights-out today. We hit balls like that, we're used to getting some guys on base."
Lafferty went 2 for 3 and Jake Derifield was 2 for 2 for Lawrence County (20-4). Derifield got the win out of the bullpen.
Peyton Jackson took the decision in relief of Vanover, who was sterling until allowing the first four Bulldogs in the seventh to reach base and score.
"We couldn't get anything going against that guy, No. 8," Feltner said of Vanover. "He pounded the strike zone with two pitches, and we couldn't string hits together, and he didn't walk guys."
Conley took responsibility for the loss. He said he left Vanover in too long, putting both Vanover and Jackson in difficult positions.
"That last inning, we started getting hit a little bit harder," Conley said. "One of my (pet peeves) is leaving a pitcher in too long. I hate doing that, and I wanted to give (Vanover) a chance to finish it up, and I shouldn't have."
Preston, Jake Biggs and Jacob Kelley each went 2 for 3 for the Lions (19-7). Biggs scored on a wild pitch in the second inning, Kelley drove in two runs and Preston hit a no-doubt solo shot to left field in the fifth.
Lawrence County 4, Boyd County 3
The Bulldogs controlled the opener for six and a half innings. Lawrence County gave ace Bryce Blevins, a University of Kentucky commit, three runs to work with, and the lefty limited the Lions to one run on two hits entering the top of the seventh.
Then Alex Martin singled home Jackson, and with Boyd County down to its final strike, Brad Newsome beat out an infield single to score Josh Lusby and tie the game.
Lions pitcher Luke Patton retired the Bulldogs' top two hitters in the order in the bottom of the seventh before running into trouble.
Abner Collinsworth singled and Lawrence County perfectly executed a hit-and-run. As Collinsworth broke for second base, the Lions' shortstop headed to second to cover the bag. Blevins punched it through the hole he had just vacated to put runners on the corners.
Lawrence County lifted Blevins for a courtesy runner, and Whitt had words for his teammate on his way to the dugout.
"He walked off because we put a runner in for him," Whitt said, "and I said, 'I got you, bro.'"
Whitt did indeed, lifting a walk-off single to right-center field to plate Collinsworth.
"That at-bat, you just gotta try to put the ball in play," Whitt said. "In that situation, with a guy on third ... not looking for anything big; looking to make contact."
It made a winner out of Blevins, who registered 13 strikeouts, issued no walks and scattered five hits — all singles.
"Bryce was spectacular, like he's been every time out," Feltner said, "and (Boyd County is) a good ballclub, so it's hard to do that. Hat's off to him for hanging in there and battling."
Blevins also went 4 for 4. Maynard was 3 for 4 and Lafferty went 2 for 2.
Patton took the decision for the Lions. Conley credited his effort and progression, as well as Boyd County's mentality against Blevins.
"We did battle, and we weren't scared and we weren't intimidated," Conley said. "We gave them a good fight."
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BOYD CO. 000 100 2 — 3 5 2
LAWRENCE CO. 001 011 1 — 4 11 4
Patton and Jones; Blevins and B. Fletcher. W — Blevins. L — Patton.
BOYD CO. 020 011 0 — 4 10 1
LAWRENCE CO. 000 000 5 — 5 8 0
Vanover, Jackson (7) and Joe Lusby; B. Fletcher, Derifield (6) and Preston. W — Derifield. L — Jackson. 2B — Martin (BC), Whitt (LC), Lafferty (LC). HR — Preston (BC).