Danville blanks Lincoln for district baseball title

May 30, 2004|MARTY WARREN

Danville coach Paul Morse said that when Rich Witten is healthy and on his game, he would pitch him against anybody in the state.

Witten gave up two first inning singles Saturday, then closed the door on Lincoln County by retiring 18 of the final 19 batters he faced as Danville recorded its second straight shutout of the tournament, beating Lincoln 3-0 for the 45th District Tournament crown for the first time since 1995.

There were no fireworks between the two teams in their first meeting since Lincoln coach Jimmy Hill's inflammatory remarks about Danville in the preseason, but there was plenty of anxiety over what time the two teams would play after the Patriots rallied to defeat Casey County 8-7 in the semifinals earlier in the day at Boyle County High School.

Hill wanted to get his team something to eat and some time to rest before his team took the field against Danville, and play finally began at 3:30 - 45 minutes after the game was expected to start and one hour and 15 minutes after the completion of the first game.


"We fought so hard just to get to this point," Hill said of getting to the final game. "We were physically and mentally drained after the first game. It took a lot out of us, but I'm glad we got to play in the second game. It means that we get to play more next week."

Lincoln (19-17), which rallied to beat Casey with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, got two-out singles from Logan Boyd and Trevor Merriman in the first inning against Danville. Boyd, however, was thrown out trying to go from first to third on Merriman's single to end the inning.

Danville (23-11) also threatened in the first, only to come up empty despite having runners on second and third with no outs. The inning ended when Lincoln first baseman Zach Bullock grabbed a foul popup over his shoulder off the bat of Deangleo Durham, then wheeled around to throw Jeremy Potts, the tournament's most valuable player, out at the plate to end the rally.

"We wanted to be aggressive and make something happen early," Morse said. "(Bullock) just made a fantastic play."

Witten relied on his fastball

Witten allowed just one baserunner to reach base the rest of the way - he hit Andrew Peek with a pitch in the third - and relied on his fastball to shut down the Patriots. Out of 86 pitches, 70 of them were fastballs.

"That's pretty much been our game plan all year," Witten said. "We just throw it until they catch up with it. I felt better on the mound than I have all year, and it helps knowing that your defense will back you up."

Morse said it was the best performance of the year from his freshman hurler.

"That's what we inticipated from him all along," the Danville coach said. "He's been busting his tail to get back into shape to help us out on the mound. That work paid off today."

Danville got all the runs it would need in the third inning. Ryan Funkhouser reached on a bloop single, went to second on Potts' sacrifice bunt and third on a Lincoln error. He scored on C.J. Lynn's solid single to left field, and Potts would score on another error for a 2-0 lead.

The Admirals added an insurance run in the fourth on a Deshaun Warren home run.

For the second straight game, the Ads played error-free baseball.

"This was the best two games that we have played back-to-back all year," Morse said. "Our pitching has been solid, we've played error-free baseball and someone different has stepped up to make plays for us."

"When we hit the ball they made all of the plays," Hill said. "We didn't, and all you can do is tip your hats to them and go on. We win with class and lose with class and I'll give credit where credit is due. They played well and we didn't."

Losing pitcher Chris Hart, who threw 17 pitches in two-thirds of an inning in the opener against Casey, suffered the loss while giving up only five hits and two earned runs in five innings. Logan Boyd pitched the final frame.

Potts, Lynn, Durham, Warren and Joey Beldon led the Ads with one-hit each.

Lincoln County 8, Casey County 7 - In the semifinal, which was delayed four days by rain, Casey (10-16) got a two-run homer from Corey Dial and three-run shot from Kyle Long to jump on the Patriots 7-0 before Lincoln rallied for six runs in the third inning and two in the sixth to pull out the win.

Trevor Merriman picked up the win with 5 2/3 innings of relief of Chris Hart. He gave up three hits before yielding to Boyd, who pitched the final two-thirds of an inning to pick up the save.

Lincoln got doubles from Nate Rice, Brett Witte and Bullock plus singles by Merriman and Hart in the six run third inning, and a sacrifice fly from Merriman in the sixth that gave the Patriots the lead. Witte, Kayne Merriman and Andrew Peek also singled to round out the Patriots eight-hit attack.

Trevor Harrison, who relieved starter Daniel Riddle in the third, suffered the loss.

Long had a double to go along with his home run while Dustin Perkins and Riddle also had one-hit each.

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