WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg Pirates squared off against the number one team in the state of Kentucky Friday evening, the Greenup County Musketeers. After leading for much of the game, the Pirates succumbed to the Musketeers by a score of 5-1.
Jordan Howard reached base on an error in the bottom of the first, which was followed up by a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single by Wheelersburg senior, Kyle Davis. This would be the only score of the game for Wheelersburg as Greenup’s pitcher, Ryan Lambert, allowed just five, spread-out hits with no walks while racking up eight strike outs.
“This is a tune up for tournament baseball,” said Pirates Coach Michael Estep. “You lace them up and try to play the best that you can. We had a good effort out of Chase Holbrook, but unfortunately we didn’t do a good job offensively. Credit Lambert, he kept us off balance. We didn’t do a good job at competing at the plate. When you are facing a team and a pitcher of that caliber the margin of error is slim.
“We wanted to get out and score early and we did. But the middle innings are important. You have to keep pressing against good teams. You have to make their pitcher throw extra pitches, and we didn’t. We gave up some at-bats. We also had some defensive miscues late that didn’t help our case, either.”
Greenup County’s first run came in the top of the sixth as catcher Brody Shope singled in an RBI from second base. Then the Musketeers pushed four runs across the plate in the seventh, as they took advantage of three errors in the inning from the Pirates.
Despite that, Holbrook pitched a solid game for the Pirates. He gave up only four hits and two walks, while allowing a single earned run.
Greenup County is now 31-0 as Kentucky’s number one ranked program. With five games left Head Coach Greg Logan looks to stay undefeated headed into postseason play.
“We are going to approach every game like it’s very winnable,” Logan said. My kids don’t get rattled or shaken, they are patient. It took seven innings tonight to get the win and we knew it was going to be tough. Anytime Greenup and Wheelersburg get together this is what you can expect. It’s great prep for the tournament anytime you can play this type of competition.
“We managed to take advantage of their miscues tonight. Gage Hughes had a big double in the seventh that cleared the bases for us. Lambert is just a sophomore, but he had total command. He threw 86 pitches and 66 were strikes. He’s a surprise for us this year, but he’s been exceptional.”
With just the five games left, Coach Logan hopes to define his rotation in the coming games for the tournament. Besides that, he doesn’t foresee any changes or deviations from the game plan as they continue their quest for a state title.
Wheelersburg has a single makeup game left against the Waverly Tigers before they start their tournament run. Wheelersburg will head into that game in the tournament celebrating yet another SOC II championship.
“I’m happy for our guys,” said Estep. “I’ve told these guys that one of the things I’m most proud of is that we don’t take days off. We may not always play our best, but against the teams that we should compete against we have solid fundamentals, we make the routine plays, and we don’t hurt ourselves. There’s going to be games where you are swinging the bats well and not putting up a lot of runs. But, we put ourselves in the positions to win games night in and night out. I’m proud of our guys, all of them and their consistency the last twelve years.
“The SOC (II) championship is the number one goal for us every year. Tip of the hat to them for getting it done again this year.”
The Pirates are 17-6 as they wrap up their season and attempt to make another deep run in the playoffs.