BY MATTHEW SPARKS
FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
CANNONSBURG Nick Conley knows how to mistreat a baseball.
The Russell senior belted doubles in his first two at-bats on Friday night, setting off a Red Devils hit parade in a 19-8 victory over Boyd County in six innings at Addington Field.
Russell posted a crooked number in each frame and recorded 15 hits in its largest offensive output in nearly two seasons.
“When Nick is seeing the ball that well, the other guys feed off Nick’s energy,” Russell coach Tim Rice said. “They want to get on board.”
Five Red Devil players had multiple-hit games. Conley was 3 for 5 with two RBIs. Casey Hensley and Austin Brinkman each had three hits. Jesse Lyon and Kenith Gomez added two singles apiece.
“We always talk about letting the ball get deep, letting it travel and getting alley to alley,” Rice said. “We did talk about that in the pregame. (Thursday against Rowan County), we kinda got out of that. We scored eight runs, but we didn’t have the right approach. I think we could have put on more.
“Tonight, we took that challenge. (Boyd County) had a soft-throwing lefty starting.
That is always your strategy against a pitcher like that, letting the ball travel and try and pound that right-center gap. Nick did that and got us off to a great start.”
Conley’s first extra-base hit reached the center-field wall and sent Russell’s first run home in the opening inning.
The next three batters produced RBI knocks. Chaz Whitt hit a single, Hensley produced a double and Brinkman ended the stretch with a triple.
Boyd County countered with three tallies of their own in the bottom of the stanza with a sacrifice fly and a tworun single by Isaac Stanley. It was as close as the Lions would get the rest of the way.
“We couldn’t go anything to stop them offensively,” Boyd County coach Brandon Ramsey said. “They did a good job of taking advantage of mistakes that we made and putting the ball in play. We didn’t do much to put the fire out.”
Russell burned Boyd County with 10 runs over the next four frames. Conley’s double in the second fell a few feet short of a homer. It scored two. Russell plated two more in the third on a sacrifice fly and a Lions’ error. Brinkman and Lyon contributed RBI singles in the fourth and a Lions’ miscue in the fifth allowed two more runs to cross the plate for the Red Devils.
“We have to do a better job of throwing strikes and minimizing innings,” Boyd County coach Brandon Ramsey. “Not letting people piling up runs.
You can’t win ball games like that.”
Cole Cordle took the victory on the mound for Russell. He and Lyon, who came on in relief, had to pitch around several fielding mistakes behind them. The Red Devils placed seven errors on the scoreboard, four in the fifth inning alone that led to three Boyd County runs.
“We kinda gave Boyd County that three in the first inning,” Rice said. “We didn’t play it very clean today. Seven errors, we have to clean that up. They took advantage of them to get to eight runs. We have to clean up that glove side and continue to get better.”
Russell improves to 15-7, matching its entire win total from last season. The Rice said his seniors want a different ending to their final campaign.
“We are older and stronger,” Rice said. “The winter workouts and the weight room (have made a difference).
They don’t want to end the season the way we did last year. Not that it was unsuccessful, but this senior group wants to take this program to the next level.”
Cole Davis had a triple and a two-run single for Boyd County (10-9).
RUSSELL 422 335 — 1915 7 BOYDCO. 311 030 — 8 9 4
Cordle, Lyon (5) and Brinkman. Preece, McNeil (1), Salyer (3), Sorrell (5) and Allen. W—Cordle. L— Preece. 2B—Conley 2 (R), Hensley (R). 3B— Brinkman (R), Davis (BC).