Danville baseball drops All-A state sectional at LCA

Published 11:32 pm Monday, April 22, 2019


Contributing Writer

LEXINGTON — If you were to tell Danville head coach Paul Morse that his team would score seven runs against Lexington Christian Academy in yesterday’s All-A sectional game, he would’ve liked his team’s chance to win.

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If you were to add that to the fact that LCA would pull their starting pitcher after one inning, he would’ve liked his chances even more.

Those two things did happen; but unfortunately it was pitching and defense that let the Admirals down in a 12-7 loss to LCA.

Danville’s offense proved it was up to the task facing LCA junior Evan Byers — a University of Kentucky commit who came into the game with a 1.08 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched.

Danville then scored the game’s first run one batter later when Christian Howe grounded one to shortstop, forcing the LCA defense to take the force out at third base and allowing Jacob Crank to trot home from third base.

But in a prime scoring opportunity to open the game it was all Danville could muster in the top of the first.

“We left way too many guys on the whole game,” coach Morse said. “You could tell both teams had five or six days off with the weather and schedule and both teams looked really rusty. The difference in the game is — both teams didn’t play very well — but with runners in scoring position they had hits to knock guys in. And we didn’t have enough to keep pace.”

Danville was able to keep pace early in the game.

After falling behind 1-0, LCA quickly answered back with two runs in the bottom of the first off Danville starter Brady Morse to take a 2-1 lead. It was an LCA lead that was short-lived.

Hunter Baxter led off the top of the second with a single to right field and would later score, knotting the game up at 2-2.

Cayden Shaver then walked, and Ethan Wood singled to center to send Crank around third base and into home to give Danville the lead back at 3-2. The Ads would add one more on an error by LCA to take a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom half of the second.

But LCA continued to fight back.

The Eagles got the first three hitters on base to begin the bottom half of the frame. However, like Danville in the top of the first, LCA only managed one run with the bases loaded — an RBI ground out by Matthew Johnson–to trim Danville’s lead to 4-3 after two innings.

It was the third inning, though, that proved Danville’s downfall.

After Danville’s bats went scoreless in the third, the LCA offense went to work on an inning that started off with a defensive miscue.

Danville’s second error of the inning scored Matthew Johnson to make it 9-4. In total, LCA managed four hits, sending 10 men to the plate in the six run second inning that was aided by two Danville errors.

From that point on Danville was playing a game of catch-up — a game they could never seem to grab hold of.

Danville’s Ethan Wood blasted his sixth home-run of the season, a towering two run blast, to trim the LCA lead to 9-6 in the third. But LCA got those two runs back in the bottom of the fifth to stretch the lead back out to five.

The Eagles added their 12th, and final run, in the bottom of the sixth.

Danville tried to make it interesting in the top of the seventh.

Brady Morse singled with one out. Two batters later, pinch hitter Jack Simpson reached on catcher’s interference. Two pitches later, pinch hitter Logan Smothers was hit by a pitch to load the bases then Crank reached base for a third time on a bases loaded hit by a pitch to cut LCA’s lead to 12-7.

But much like the game began for Danville, it left men on base to end the game as Shaver roped a fly ball to center field but in range for Davis to make the catch in the right center field gap to clinch an LCA All-A sectional win.

It was a frustrating loss for the Admirals, who in total committed six errors that led to six unearned runs.

“It’s not just those errors but I can think of maybe three other mental plays that led to another three of those six runs that were earned,” coach Morse said. “No communication, multiple guys going for the same ball. Most of them are balls that don’t even leave the infield grass so that’s really frustrating.”

There were positives for the Admirals, too.

Seven of their nine starters recorded hits and their first three hitters — Crank, Shaver, and Wood — went a combined 6/11, scored three runs, and had four RBI.

While the loss means Danville will miss out on the All-A state tournament, Morse still believes this team has a lot left to accomplish.

“It’s just about being prepared mentally and getting better each day,” coach Morse said. “We’ve got to come out and get better between now and when the district tournament starts and that starts versus Garrard (Tuesday). You can’t just be satisfied with what you’ve done the last game, or the last week, or even since the beginning of the season. We’ve got to get more focused on some of the fundamentals, getting better, and just cleaning stuff up so we can make a good run here.”