VANCEBURG – The things that made Lewis County successful early on in the season escaped them Wednesday evening in an important 63rd District battle with Raceland in Vanceburg.
Walks, a costly error and an inability to close out innings put the Lions in a 6-2 hole and were unable to claw back in an 11-5 loss to the Rams, putting them in a 0-2 hole to start district play.
Control issues plagued the Lions early on as they issued six walks and hit two batters in the first three innings. The Rams took advantage of that, especially in the second and third innings. After Justin Fairchild got them on the board with a two-run homer in the first, Raceland would plate two more in the second and third innings to extend out to a 6-2 lead.
The Lions weren’t ready to put themselves in a hole in 63rd District play though. They’d bounce back with two runs in the third and plate another in the fourth to get back within 6-5 after four innings of play.
After Tate Willis and Mark Sparks knocked RBI singles in the first inning to tie things up at 2-2, the Lions got within two after three innings when Sparks drove in another run with a sacrifice fly and Austin Collins reached on an error to third, scoring Garrett Applegate to make it 6-4.
Marty Simonnetti made it a one-run game after four after utilizing his speed reaching on a bunt single, advancing two bases on a passed ball and then scoring on a Bryce Wallingford sacrifice fly.
The Rams kept pressing the issue and continued to do so with two outs. Justin Fairchild drove in his fourth and fifth RBIs of the game, all with two outs on a two-run double, scoring Kirk Pence and Jake Heighton to make it 8-5 after four and a half innings of play.
Jake Heighton, who came on in relief for Braydon Shore in the third, continued to settle in as he pitched scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth innings.
Heighton was also big in Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory over the Lions, coming on in the seventh inning to record a save, including two strikeouts with the tying run at third base. He’d help his own cause with some insurance in the seventh as he roped a two-run homer to left, scoring Hunter Lacks to make it 10-5. Raceland would add another as they scored their ninth run of the night with two outs when Ryan Sergent’s double scored Seth Mills.
The 11 runs allowed were a season high for Lewis County, who turn around and hit the road on Thursday to Louisa to take on Lawrence County. The Lions had allowed 18 runs in their first eight games prior to Wednesday night. The loss dropped them to 7-2 on the year. Sparks led the Lions with two RBIs on the evening, he also had two hits along with Seth Wright and Sam O’Keefe.
Raceland improved to 12-2 and 2-0 in the 63rd. They face Sciotoville East, Ohio at home on Friday. Fairchild drove in five runs to lead the Rams, Heighton had two extra-base hits with the homer and a double, also recording a win on the mound. Applegate took the loss, failing to get out of the third inning.
2B – (R) Heighton, Fairchild, Lacks, Sergent
HR – (R) Fairchild, Heighton
RBI- (R) Fairchild 5, Heighton 2, Pence, Mills (LC) Sparks 2, Willis, Wallingford
LOB – Raceland 12, Lewis 7
WP- Heighton. LP- Applegate.
Records: Raceland (12-2, 2-0), Lewis County (7-2, 0-2)