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Danville matches state home run record in win at Garrard County

By JOE MATHIS

Contributing Writer

LANCASTER — After Monday night’s loss to Lexington Christian Academy, Danville head coach Paul Morse said his team needed to reset, work out the kinks and get ready for a district game the next night against Garrard County.

His team heard that message loud and clear.

Danville dispatched Garrard County 13-2 last night in five innings and in the process tied the state record for most home runs hit by a team in a single game.

After the first inning, though, you would have thought the Admirals and Golden Lions were set for a pitchers duel.

Garrard starting pitcher Hudson Cornett easily worked through the Admirals offense in the top of the first, taking only eight pitches to record a pop out, a strike out, and a line out.

His opposition, Danville starter Christian Howe, practically matched him pitch for pitch: it took Howe nine pitches to record two strikeouts and a ground out in the bottom half of the frame to send the game into the second inning scoreless.

And from there, things drastically changed.

Preston Barnes battled through a seven pitch at bat to lead off the top of the second, sending that seventh pitch deep to left center field for the first of Danville’s seven home runs.

One batter later, Howe helped himself out, driving a 1-1 fastball to nearly the same spot Barnes did for back-to-back blasts and putting Danville up 2-0.

Garrard flashed power of its own in the bottom of the second.

Two pitches into the second inning, Ethan Wall found a fastball that caught to much of the plate and lined a home run to left to trim Danville’s lead in half at 2-1.

That was as close as Garrard would get all night as Danville would go on a tear that would put them in the state record books.

Following a one out single by Jacob Crank in the top of the third, Admirals’ catcher Cayden Shaver unloaded on a fastball to left center field for Danville’s third home run of the game and extended its lead to 4-1.

Three pitches later, Ethan Wood hit his team-leading seventh home run to pad Danville’s lead to four.

Barnes ripped his second home run of the game, a line drive to center field, giving Danville back-to-back-to-back home runs. It was Barnes’ first career multi home-run game.

“Right off the bat we could tell every single ball we hit was going,” Barnes said. “It was just a fun night for us to have. At the end of the day we were all just getting the barrel on the ball and doing our job.”

Danville’s third inning home run barrage didn’t stop there.

Two batters after Barnes’ blast, Brady Morse singled. That set the stage for junior Hunter Baxter, who crushed a line drive that carried over the left field fence for his first career home run and Danville’s sixth home run of the game.

“Hunter really put it on himself to put in a lot of time in the offseason, during the fall, winter and really worked on his hitting,” Danville coach Paul Morse said. “When he stays within himself and uses the whole field and hits gap to gap and hits line drives — that ball was a line drive that just got out of here. He smoked that one and it was good to see him get one out.”

Danville would add one more long ball in the top of the fourth, when Wood padded his team lead with his eighth home run, an opposite field solo blast that put the Admirals up 8-2 and shot them into the record books.

According to official KHSAA stats, the Admirals became only the seventh team in state history to hit seven home runs in a single game. It was also the first time in nearly 19 years that feat had been accomplished: The last team to do it was Belfry, who hit seven home runs on May 24th, 2000 against the now defunct Feds Creek High School.

That’s not the only record-setting performance from the game, either.

Adding Garrard’s home run in with Danville’s seven means last night’s game also became just the third in KHSAA history to feature a combined eight home runs in a single game. The last time that happened was in 2005 and places it one behind the state’s all time combined home run record of nine.

“We’re starting to swing the bats well,” coach Morse said. “Seven home runs is obviously exceptional but it seems like the last couple games we’re having better at bats, were squaring it up. That’s a plus and today was just a good day. Guys are starting to buy into some things and using the whole field and that’s good to see.”

The rest of Danville’s runs came in more conventional fashion — or unconventional compared to this game.

The Ads loaded the bases in the top of the fifth. Crank then singled to make it 10-2. Shaver drew his state leading 32nd walk to make it 11-2. Wood singled to left to make it 12-2 and then Barnes drove in his third run with a sacrifice fly to make it 13-2.

Howe then polished off Garrard County in the bottom of the fifth to record the win and give Danville their 20th win of the season.

And though the offense was obviously the story, it was also another solid outing on the mound by Howe. He went five innings, surrendering six hits, two runs, striking out eight and not allowing a single walk — and he did it on just 64 pitches.

“At one point he was over 80 percent strikes so he threw the ball really well,” coach Morse said. “He was upset giving up a couple of runs and he hung a breaking ball but once you get the lead it’s about pounding the zone, throwing strikes and seeing what happens. That’s three really good starts in a row and so I think he’s finally getting healthy after last year. We’re pleased with where he’s at right now.”

But while coach Morse is pleased with Howe, he knows his team now has to buckle down to take care of business in tonight’s game against Garrard.

“We mentioned that today’s win doesn’t mean anything if we don’t come out tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll come out tomorrow, be focused again, have a good pre-game and get them ready to go.”