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Entering Monday’s game at 5th Region rival John Hardin on a season-worst eight-game losing streak, the LaRue County Hawks were badly in need of a pick-me-up.
Sophomore Colby Skaggs pulled the Hawks out of their slide, throwing a complete-game four-hitter as LaRue County beat the Bulldogs, 5-2.
Skaggs struck out three and walked three as the Hawks (6-20) won for the first time since April 17 in beating John Hardin (12-14) for the second time this season.
“I think I pitched pretty well,” Skaggs said. “I was in a zone and I had a good defense behind me. I just grinded it out.”
As LaRue County coach Eric Allen put it, Skaggs’ outing was exactly what the Hawks needed.
“I’m extremely pleased with Colby,” Allen said. “It was kind of a gut-check night for all of us. We needed a win badly and Colby went out there and was 100 percent heart tonight. I can’t say enough about the job he did.”
When Skaggs ran into trouble, he limited the damage.
After John Hardin tied it at 1 in the fourth on an error, Skaggs induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. When the Bulldogs had two runners on and one out in the sixth, eighth-grader Brandon Cecil turned an unassisted double play to get out of that jam.
“They played real well behind me,” Skaggs said of his defense. “I’m glad for that, because we’ve been struggling with errors the last couple of games. Tonight, we showed up.”
John Hardin threatened again in the seventh, pulling within 5-2 on freshman Darian Pope’s double, but Skaggs ended the game with a strikeout.
The Hawks had a reliever ready, but Allen wanted to see if Skaggs could finish it.
“I was 100 percent confident in him,” said LaRue County junior catcher Koy Lindsey. “They scored six runs on us to come back the last time we played them, and we’ve played like that all year with teams coming back on us. We’ve had some rough times this year, but in that situation, I felt comfortable in my guys.”
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead in the second as senior Kody Key-Close reached on an error and scored on Cecil’s single up the middle. John Hardin tied it in the fourth when senior Dale Gumm singled and scored on an error three batters later.
The Hawks answered with a three-run fifth. Freshman Matheo Lynn singled and later scored on an error in the outfield, sophomore Cameron Dawson scored on an error and Key-Close singled to drive in eighth-grade courtesy runner Bryson Cobb.
LaRue County stretched its lead to 5-1 as Dawson doubled to score Lindsey, who led off the seventh with a triple to right-center field.
Even then, Allen wasn’t completely comfortable because his team had blown a big lead before.
“We’ve taken numerous leads into the seventh inning and blown them,” Allen said. “Finishing has been a struggle for us all year, and it was today. We had a couple of guys get too relaxed out there and make some mental errors. It wasn’t a pretty way to end the game, but it’s a win nonetheless.”
Errors did in John Hardin, 1-5 in its last six games. The Bulldogs made four against the Hawks, and have committed 17 in the last four games.
The errors took away from what was a strong start by junior Dajour Strong, who struck out four of the Hawks’ first 10 batters.
“It’s game after game,” John Hardin coach Greg Gum said of the miscues. “We haven’t given our pitcher a chance for the last week or so, no matter who’s pitching. We tried a couple of position changes, but it seems we’re still making a lot of errors. Until we get that figured out, we’ve got our work cut out for us.”