ALEXANDRIA – Despite entering the 10th Region baseball tournament as a district champion, Mason County was still the heavy underdog when they entered Monday’s contest against George Rogers Clark.
The final result proved why.
The Cardinals pounded out 12 hits, put the ball in play and trounced the Royals 15-1, in five innings at Campbell County. The loss ended the Royals season at 10-12, an up-and-down year with a young team that still resulted in another district title, but yet another first round exit in the regional tourney.
“We’ve just got to keep battling and keep playing and for the guys coming back we’ve got to get some summer ball in,” Royals coach Tom Posey said. “If they want to get better, they got to get out and get some stuff done on their own. We’ve just got to get better.”
The scoring started early and often for GRC. They’d put two runs across in the top of the first as Jake Ware’s RBI double was followed by an Ethan Neal RBI single.
“That’s what we tried to tell the guys on the way here was to get some runs early, we started hitting in the cages about 6 a.m. this morning,” Cardinals coach Matt Puckett said. “We just tried to put balls in play and felt like if we could do that and then good things would happen.”
Malkolm Devine, who got the ball on the mound for the Royals to start, tried to get a run back as he whacked a one-out double in the bottom half of the frame, but was left stranded at third after David Selby worked the count full but struck out on the payoff pitch.
Another run was manufactured in the second by the Cardinals as Joe Austin led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch, was sacrificed over to second on a bunt and later scored on Cameron Dove’s RBI single.
“Them starting off and getting those runs, it did not help and that’s for sure,” Posey said.
Meanwhile, Bo Billings was cruising along for GRC, working a 1-2-3 bottom of the second.
Floodgates opened in the third when GRC plated four on three hits and an error to make it 7-0, chasing Devine from the game after just 2.2 innings of work.
Two more runs came across in the fourth for the Cardinals as pinch-runner Will Marsillett scored on a passed ball and Caden Easterling recorded an RBI via groundout.
GRC was pressing to end this one early.
The Royals weren’t ready to let that happen yet as they scratched a run across in the bottom of the fourth when Nickolas Frame drove home David Selby with an RBI single to right.
Needing just two runs to put the game in a run-rule scenario, the Cardinals made sure they got there as they sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring six runs on five hits and an error to make it 15-1.
“I really liked the way our kids came out. They were excited, they were energetic from the first pitch to the last,” Puckett said.
Billings’ closed out a complete game on the hill as he struck out two and got Trey Cracraft to end the game with a groundout. Billings would allow just three hits on the day with one earned run and nine strikeouts without issuing a walk.
“Bo pitched one heck of a ball game for us. Strikes all day long, was all around the plate. Did a super job and that’s all you can ask this time of year,” Puckett said.
For the Royals, it puts an end to their season with a youthful roster and just three seniors departing, Malkolm Devine, J’Kari Gause and Zach Drury.
“I wish the seniors the best moving forward. If they have any questions or need help down the road that’s what I’m here for. If they go off to school or a job application, I’m here to help them. We just wish them the best,” Posey said.
The 10 wins for Mason County was their least amount since Posey took over the program in 2012.
“We had a young team. We need to just keep doing what we’re doing. Batting cages will be open all summer and they need to take advantage of it. I’m not telling them to go out and play 75-100 games this summer, they need to take care of their arms. It’s just one of things we’ve got to keep working at it and we’ll be okay. I like what we’ve got coming back,” Posey said.
GEORGE ROGERS CLARK—214-26X-X—15-12-1
2B- (GRC) Ware, Austin, Walton, Easterling (MC) Devine
RBI- (GRC) Neal 3, Ware 2, Easterling 2, Puckett 2, Dove, Austin, Turner, Billings
LOB- GRC 5, Mason 3
WP- Billings. LP- Devine.
Records: George Rogers Clark 22-10, Mason County 10-12