Draughn stops Danville's offense

June 04, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

LONDON - For a team accustomed to scoring runs in bunches, this game had to be a shock to the system.

Danville entered its 12th Region Tournament semifinal averaging 10.8 runs per game, but the Admirals' offense went on hiatus Thursday night in their 7-1 loss to Pulaski County.

The reason: Cole Draughn.

Draughn, Pulaski's pitching ace and the best pitcher in the 12th Region, kept Danville's batters off balance and kept pitching his way out of trouble.

"He's a quality pitcher," Danville coach Paul Morse said. "At the high school level, if you can throw two pitches for strikes and move it around that's a big plus for him."


And it was a big problem for Danville, which had only two hits in the first five innings. Even though they knew they were facing a formidable pitcher, the Admirals thought they would fare better offensively.

"We thought we were going to come out here and hit a little more than we did today," Danville first baseman Deangleo Durham said.

Ads finished with .368 team batting average

The Admirals entered the game with a team batting average of .373 - it dipped to a final average of .368 - and averaged 13.7 hits per game. They also brought a .482 on-base percentage into the game.

They had scored 10 or more runs in 13 of their 24 wins, including a 19-0 win over Burgin in their first-round game Tuesday.

But it was a different story against Draughn, who entered the game with a 6-2 record and a 0.42 earned-run average. The Admirals got one hit in each of the first two innings, then didn't get another until the sixth.

Still, they weren't without chances to score. They had runners on base in every inning except the fifth, and they left seven men on base, all of them in scoring position.

"Most of the time we can score a lot of runs, and we had opportunities to score a lot of runs in this game. Unfortunately, we couldn't get people around to score," center fielder Ronnie Hawkins said.

Draughn struck out 12 batters and walked only one, and only one Danville batter got the ball out of the infield in the first five innings.

"The most disappointing thing today was we had the guys on base and opportunities to score," Morse said. "We just didn't get the key hit when we needed it."

Draughn's fastball was clocked as high as 87 miles per hour, and that was in the middle innings.

"He's probably the hardest throwing and best pitcher we've seen," Hawkins said.

Offspeed pitches gave Danville trouble

But Morse said it wasn’t the fastball that gave the Admirals fits.

“His velocity didn’t bother us,” Morse said. “I can throw that hard to them in batting practice. It’s his offspeed stuff that we had trouble with.”

Hawkins, who went 2-for-3 and drove in Danville’s only run with a sixth-inning double, said he solved Draughn by staying away from the breaking balls.

“I was just waiting on a fastball,” Hawkins said. “He’s got a slider that’s pretty good, so I was just waiting on a fastball.”

Danville finished two wins below last year’s total, but the Admirals went two steps further when they won their first 45th District title since 1995 and made their first regional appearance since 1998.

Morse said he’s already looking forward to making an even deeper run next season.

“With only three seniors, the majority of our team’s back next year,” Morse said. “Getting beat in the district last year left a bad taste in their mouth, and we hope they remember this for next year and come in ready to go.”

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