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Bat Pats shut out by Admirals in district opener

By Mike Marsee
Contributing writer

STANFORD – The Lincoln County baseball team had nothing to smile about in its 45th District opener Tuesday night.

There weren’t enough positive plays made by the Bat Patriots as Danville pitcher Ethan Wood allowed only one hit to help the Admirals extend their hot start into district play with an 8-0 shutout over their hosts.

Woods, a freshman right-hander, was all smiles as he took a perfect game into the fifth inning and, even after he lost it, found time to smile about something he heard from a teammate in the dugout or any number of other little things.

Woods’ teammates played it loose, too, as Danville (9-1, 1-0 district) won its ninth straight game and posted its third shutout of the season.

“We’re all buddies, we’re pretty close with each other, so no matter what’s going on – winning by 10, losing by 10 – we’re just out there having fun, making jokes,” Wood said.

The entire Danville team seems to be having fun, and coach Paul Morse said he is, too.

“It’s a group that wants to learn, and they’re playing hard and it’s loose and they don’t know any better, because we’ve got four or five freshmen and an eighth-grader out there,” Morse said. “It’s a fun team to coach so far this year, and they’re playing hard and that’s all you can ask for.”

No one was having more fun than Wood, who struck out 10 batters and allowed only three base runners.

“I felt good out there,” he said. “A little cold, but you’ve got to tough through it sometimes,” he said. “My fastball was my go-to pitch, and my curveball was working pretty nice, too.”

“He’s a workhorse,” Morse said. “He wants the ball in his hands, and he’s a special talent as a freshman with his size and velocity and the stuff he has.”

Wood retired the first 13 batters he faced – and struck out eight of them – before Brady Martin reached base in the fifth inning on a short fly ball that fell between the left fielder and the shortstop. It was the only ball hit by a Lincoln batter that made it out of the infield, and Martin was promptly retired on a double play.

Wood walked two batters in the seventh inning – one of whom he picked off second base – before closing out Lincoln.
He did not lack for support, as the Admirals scored in five of their seven at-bats and had hits in all but one inning to win in the first game of the first back-to-back series of the season under the new district scheduling format.

“We hit, we got up early and just kept going,” Wood said. “That’s what we came here to do, and we did it.”

Lincoln (2-6, 0-1) did not do what coach Tee Ellis hoped it would do at the plate.

“When you don’t come ready to hit, jump on first-pitch fastballs, if you’re sitting and waiting for the perfect pitch all game long, it’s going to be a long day at the plate,” Ellis said.

This was the fifth time the Bat Pats have been held to one run or less, though they scored five or more in each of their other three games.

Danville has scored eight runs or more in six of its 10 games, and the Admirals racked up 11 hits to reach that mark Tuesday.
Christian Howe had three doubles in four at-bats to lead the Danville offense. Preston Barnes and Bryson Young had two hits each, Brady Morse drove in three runs and Brennan Washington stole four bases and scored two runs.

“We preach trying to score in every inning. You don’t have to put up crooked numbers all the time,” Morse said. “We’re looking for consistency in that way, and that’s what we got today.”

Danville scored three runs in the second inning and added an unearned run in the fourth off Lincoln starter Sawyer Carrier, who allowed seven hits and four walks in 3-2/3 innings. Devin Lawhorn allowed single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, and senior Garrett Clem allowed a seventh-inning run in his first career appearance.

“I thought Devin came in and did a good job,” Ellis said. “Sawyer was missing some spots and had more walks than he’s had all year in one game, but it wasn’t his fault. You can’t win any games if you don’t score any runs.”

Ellis said the Bat Patriots would have to have a short memory as they faced the Admirals again Wednesday in Danville.

“It’s hard to stay positive after an 8-0 loss, but that’s one good thing about it: You get to see these guys again the very next night and try to put something better together for them,” he said.

Each 45th District team will play a district opponent on consecutive days in each of the next three weeks to determine seeding for the district tournament.