Cougars upset RHS, fall in finals
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

     If it’s the 13th District baseball finals, then expect to see both teams wearing blue and white.
     For the ninth time in the 10 years of this century, the Logan County Cougars and the Franklin-Simpson Wildcats met in the championship game Tuesday.
     As expected, F-S repeated as champion, beating LCHS 6-0 behind the pitching of Drew Burrell.
     To get to the championship game, Logan had to get past a Russellville team that was more experienced and more athletic. Additionally, the Panthers had one of the most highly regarded pitchers in the area on the mound in junior Darrin Murphy.
     The X Factor is simple: Logan County expects to win tournament games. Russellville has no history of that to rely on.
     Both coaches agreed the game was ugly. “The difference is they got an ugly win and we went out with an ugly loss,” said veteran Panther Coach Lou Kendall.
     Russellville started strong, hitting the ball so hard in the first inning that Cougar infielders were fortunate not to have been injured. Logan took advantage of a distressing defensive performance by the Panthers to take an 11-4 lead. Then Russellville made a gallant effort to pull out the win, only to leave the bases loaded in an 11-10 loss.
     After a gutty performance on the mound by starter Brett Sowell, young reliever Lawton Jackson bent but didn’t break. With the bags loaded by Panthers, Jackson struck out RHS senior Charleston Sydnor to end the game and the Panthers’ season at 12-10.
     Those three bombs off the Panthers’ bats came from Andre Edmonds, Dudley Bouldin and D.J. Quarles. Bouldin doubled in Edmonds with his. The early turning point was the Panthers’ base running. Cougar rightfielder Gabriel Combs teamed with catcher Dustin Cartas to cut Bouldin down at the plate on Quarles’ hit.
     Sydnor hit a ball between third and shortstop. Third baseman John Logan Dockins faked a throw to first and then teamed with shortstop Ryan Harper to catch Quarles off second base, picking him off for the second out. Sowell then got Darrin Murphy to pop up foul, turning a potentially huge inning to a tying one-run tally.
     Logan had scored in the top of the first when Cartas walked and Dustin Lee’s ground ball was booted by the second baseman, the first of seven RHS errors.
     Dockins, who had made that big defensive play in the first inning, led off the second with a home run to give the Cougars the lead.
     Sowell then reached on an infield error. Nathan Oberhausen sacrificed, and Matt Cook singled in a run. Dustin Nash reached on another error, Combs walked, and with two outs Cartas drew a bases-loaded walk to bring Cook home. Logan led 4-1.
     Oberhausen reached on the fourth infield error in the third, but was stranded.
     Logan threatened in the fourth when Murphy hit Nash with a pitch and Combs reached on the fifth infield error. Kendall took the rare step of making a defensive change in the middle of an inning, bringing in freshman Caleb Wills to play second base. Harper sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Murphy took charge, striking out all-district performers Cartas and Lee to strand the runners.
     Russellville tied the score in the fourth inning. Zack Smith walked, followed by singles by Thomas Shifflett and Seth Washington. Senior Donovan Harris hit a sinking fly ball to right. Combs dived for it, missed and watched the ball roll toward the fence. All three runners scored on the double, and the scoreboard showed 4-4. Edmonds singled, but Harris held up at third, and then Sowell fanned Bouldin to strand two runners in scoring position.
     Logan had a huge fifth inning. Dockins walked, Sowell sacrificed and reached on an error. After an out, Cook doubled in a run. Nash singled, Combs got an RBI on a fielder’s choice that didn’t produce an out. With two outs, Cartas hit a ball down the third base line that was booted. Lee singled in the fifth run of the inning to make the score 9-4. Things looked good for the Cougars, especially when Sowell retired the middle of the Panther order in the bottom of the inning.
     The Cougars added two more runs in the sixth, but it was almost more. Sowell reached on the Panthers’ seventh error, all of them by either an infielder or the pitcher. Oberhausen and Nash walked to load the bases. Combs singled with courtesy runner Jacob Hopkins scoring and Oberhausen crossing the plate. The umpire, however, called Oberhausen out for not trying to avoid contact, even though catcher Washington was blocking the baseline without the ball. Although Logan protested, the lead seemed big enough that it didn’t matter. Harper drove in Nash with a sliding infield hit, but Bouldin and Washington combined to tag Combs at the plate when he tried to score from second on an infield hit. Logan led 11-4.
     Russellville came back.  Smith, and Shifflett reached on infield hits. After Washington forced Smith at third and Sowell struck out Harris for the second out, Edmonds singled in two runs.
     Coach Ethan Meguiar relieved Sowell with Jackson, who got Bouldin to pop up to shallow right field. Harper backed up in front of fellow freshman Nash and appeared to have caught the ball for the third out, but it trickled out of his glove for the Cougars’ only error of the game. Edmonds scored the seventh RHS run on the play. Quarles singled, but Jackson struck out Sydnor to end the inning. They would meet again.
     After Murphy put the middle of the Logan order down in order, the Panthers needed four runs to tie and five to win in the seventh. They came up one short.
     Murphy, Smith and Shifflett led off with singles. Washington worked an RBI walk. Harris’ fielder’s choice forced Smith, but Edmonds was hit by a pitch for an RBI. Bouldin’s grounder to short drove in Washington with the 10th run. RHS needed one more.
      Meguiar, who has coached a ton of postseason games, ordered Quarles intentionally walked to load the bases. Sydnor, the designated hitter, struck out to end his high school career and his team’s season.
     Murphy went the distance. Most of the runs were unearned. He gave up 7 hits and 6 walks while striking out 7.
     Cook put up triple deuces with two each of hits, runs and RBIs; he even had a double. Hopkins scored three runs while running for Sowell. Nash was on base four times and scored two runs. Dockins, who homered, scored two runs.
      Russellville had twice as many hits as errors (14-7), but the errors were costly. Edmonds and Shifflett each had three hits while Quarles, Smith and Washington each had a pair of hits. The freshmen, Shifflett and Washington (or his courtesy runner), each scored three runs. Smith and Harris drew the only walks Logan pitching issued.
     Burrell pitched his championship game shutout five years to the week after his brother Adam died in an automobile accident after having practiced for the district tournament, which was held at Russellville. That was the only year that Logan and Franklin didn’t go to region. Todd Central beat Russellville in the 2004 finals.
     Ironically, the Wildcats were playing without their leading hitter, Caleb Carpenter, who was scheduled to undergo surgery that day to repair serious injuries he had suffered in a wreck, also after practice for district.
     Combs, Harper and Sowell each got two hits for Logan. Lee, Cook and Mark Alan Belcher hit safely once each. Belcher also drew the only walk Burrell gave up. Burrell struck out five Cougars.
     Belcher reached third in the third after consecutive singles by himself, Combs and Harper, but Burrell struck out Cartas and got Lee to fly out to centerfield.
     In the fourth, Sowell singled. With two outs, Cook singled and Belcher walked, but Burrell got Combs on a popup to first.
     Senior Tyler Coleman pitched five and a third innings for the Cougars. He had only given up four runs going into the final inning, but James Riggin singled, Zack Herrington sacrificed, Hayden Williams reached on an error in left field, and Brandon Kinniard picked up only the second walk by Coleman.
     Meguiar called on Nash, who got Dillon Satterley on a fly ball, but Preston Johnson singled in the sixth run before Nash got a strikeout.
     Logan fielded a young team, especially on the left side. Catcher Cartas is an eighth grader, shortstop Harper and leftfielder/reliever Nash are freshmen, and third baseman Dockins is a sophomore.
     The Cougars and Wildcats will play in the regional tournament next week at Western Kentucky University. The draw for positions will be Saturday.

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