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Elizabethtown senior Garrett Morgan admits he was missing his spots on the mound, but he didn’t have the same trouble at the plate.
Morgan kept coming up with runners in scoring position and he delivered three times to spark the Panthers to a 7-3 victory over the homestanding LaRue County Hawks in a matchup of 5th Region rivals Thursday evening.
“He kept throwing me curveballs,” Morgan said. “I just stayed back on it and did what I was supposed to do.”
Morgan made his first varsity start since having Tommy John surgery following his sophomore season. He gave up four hits and two runs in two innings of work. Morgan struck out three.
Although it was a rough night on the mound, Morgan made up for it with his bat. He was 3-for-4 with three RBIs to carry Elizabethtown, which has scored 16 runs in two games.
“That’s what you expect a senior to do,” Elizabethtown coach Don Pitts said. “I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the area. He’s really good in clutch situations.”
With Morgan struggling, Pitts turned to his young guns – freshman Hunter Sullivan and sophomore Austin Freyberger. Sullivan, who earned the win, retired the first eight batters he faced. He limited LaRue County to four hits and one run, while striking out five in 3 1/3 innings. Freyberger recorded his second save in as many games, retiring all five batters, including the last two on strikeouts.
“I thought he did a good job,” Pitts said of Sullivan. “I think he came in and did what we expected.”
Sullivan knew he was going to pitch against the Hawks, but he was surprised by how early he was called upon.
“I felt really comfortable,” Sullivan said. “He (Pitts) told me I was pitching today. I mainly did it with two pitches. I was mixing them up and that helped me get a lot of groundballs. I was confident in my pitches even though it was cold.”
The Hawks (0-3) struggled once again in the field. They made six errors against North Hardin on Tuesday and committed the same number against the Panthers, which led to four unearned runs.
“Cole (Hughes) pitched a great game, but the errors bit us again,” LaRue County coach Eric Allen said. “I know we scored three runs. I haven’t looked at the stats, but I don’t think they had too many more than three earned runs. That’s just inexperience and youthfulness rearing its ugly head.”
Elizabethtown took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Morgan’s RBI single, but the Hawks answered in the bottom half of the inning on freshman Colby Skaggs’ two-run double down the left field line.
The Panthers made it 2-1 in the second on junior Preston Patterson’s sacrifice bunt after two LaRue County errors and they erupted for four runs in the third.
After back-to-back walks to sophomores Zeke Pinkham and Cody Bridges to start the third, Morgan delivered an RBI single and then Bridges and Morgan scored when junior Jon Tarrence reached on a throwing error. Tarrence later scored when sophomore Conner Kindred reached on an error.
“We played well defensive and they made some errors,” Pitts said. “That’s the difference in the game. I don’t think we hit the ball that well. We put the ball in play and took advantage of their youth.”
Elizabethtown stretched the lead to 7-2 in the fourth on consecutive singles from Bridges, senior Cannon Pence and Morgan, which all came with two outs.
“We did a good job of putting the ball in play. We were able to get guys on back and then we did a good job of hitting them in,” Morgan said.
The Hawks cut the lead to 7-3 in the sixth on senior Austin Hinton’s RBI single, but Freyberger came in to close the door on any comeback hopes.
Despite the loss, Allen was encouraged by the progress at the plate. The Hawks collected eight hits, including two each by senior Matt Hornback and Hughes.
“Offensively, we’re starting to hit the ball harder,” Allen said. “We’re hitting the ball on the sweet spot. We’re only going to get better. We missed some signs that cost us a couple opportunities to score and striking out is a lack of aggressiveness at the plate, but I’m seeing improvements.”
ELIZABETHTOWN7, LaRUE COUNTY 3
R H E
Elizabethtown 114 100 0 7 6 0
LaRue County 200 001 0 3 8 6
Garrett Morgan, Hunter Sullivan (3), Austin Freyberger (6) and Zeke Pinkham. Cole Hughes, Colby Skaggs (6) and Koy Lindsey. WP: Sullivan (1-0). LP: Hughes (0-1). S: Freyberger (2). 2B: Skaggs (LC).
UP NEXT: Elizabethtown plays at Warren East at 6 p.m. Monday. LaRue County plays at Fort Knox at 5:30 p.m. today.
Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org