Times Staff Reporter
Clay County used solid pitching and a big second inning to advance to second-round action in the Cal Ripken Southwest Regional Tournament with a 5-1 victory over Avon Gold.
The Clay County squad got a solid performance from pitcher Luke Lancaster, who allowed only one run and four hits over six innings. Lancaster struck out one and walked none.
Coach Shane Glassburn was very complimentary of his starting pitcher's efforts in the tournament's opening round.
"(Lancaster's) pitching was excellent," Glassburn said. "He didn't allow any walks, and that is key in a 10-year old tournament."
Lancaster also benefited from solid defense.
Shortstop Austin Stevenson turned an unassisted double play to get out of a first and third jam in the third inning.
Following an RBI fielders' choice by Avon's Johnathan Greubel, they looked to do further damage by loading the bases with two outs. Clay County third basemen Jarrett Fischer put an end to the threat however, fielding a sharply hit grounder and stepping on third for a force-out, thus putting an end to Avon's hopes of a comeback.
At the plate, Clay County got out to an early lead, which proved to be enough. Jayden Lindsey got things started with a two-out RBI triple in the first inning. Things got better in the second, when Hayden France blasted a two-run double which kicked off a four-run frame.
Clay County advanced to the second round, where they will face the Northeast Youth League All Stars (Sullivan). Glassburn was happy to see his team play well, but stressed it would be crucial for his players to say sharp as they face upper tier competition.
"It's going to be a tough, long road," Glassburn said. "We won't be facing any slouches. There are lots of teams here capable of winning (the tournament)."
Clay City will face Sullivan at 10:30 Saturday morning at Forest Park.
2B- Lindsey (CC) 3B- France (CC)