(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
RISCO -- Although it's been just four games into the season, getting off to a fast start has been an achilles heel for the Scott County Central Braves as of late.
They may have taken a small step to remedy that problem on Wednesday.
Scoring three runs in the top half of the first inning, the Braves quickly put pressure on the Risco Tigers and came away with an eventual 7-2 win at Risco High School.
"It was nice to look up in the early innings and actually have runs on the scoreboard," Scott Central coach Matt Limbaugh said. "It's a big momentum booster for any team."
Scott Central senior Ben Freed hit the first of three singles for the Braves pushing across Nathan Holland for their first run of the game. With two outs already in the inning, Kamryn Johnson and Steven Minner each added singles to give the visiting Braves their 3-0 lead.
"The key after getting those big leads is trying to keep it," Limbaugh said. "Risco had a bunch of opportunities to score and we were lucky enough to get the win."
Although the Braves were able to put the ball in play, the Tigers had early fielding troubles as Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship noted leading to the big inning for Scott Central.
"They were putting the ball in play consistently and we didn't make plays early," Blankenship said. "We spotted them runs. That's one of the cardinal sins in baseball -- you can't give up runs like that."
The Braves (3-1) were able to add to their lead in the top of the second when Ben Freed drove in his second run of the game on a bases loaded single to score Bryan Freed. Holland also tried to score on Ben Freed's single but was cut down at the plate on a throw from Jordan Pavy to catcher Luke Bixler who applied the tag.
Scott Central put up three more runs in the fourth inning taking advantage of two hits and three errors by the Risco defense.
Ben Freed knocked in pinch runner Alex Johnson for his third RBI on his third single. Steven Minner blasted a two-run double to right field to drive in both Dustin and Kamryn Johnson.
Minner's double chased Risco starter Caleb McCord from the mound giving way to reliever Jordan Pavy.
As a team, Scott Central had eight hits on the day.
"Hopefully, the bats stay alive," Limbaugh said.
McCord pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up seven hits and four walks. Although seven runs were plated by the Braves while he was on the mound, only three were earned as he was the hard-luck receiver of five errors behind him.
"(McCord) did a good job of getting ground balls and several of those errors were ground balls that should have been caught," Blankenship said. "I felt like (McCord) did a good job. He just caught some bad breaks."
Risco (3-4) earned two runs back in their half of the fourth when Jordan Pavy was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Matt Cummins. McCord then hit an RBI single to give the Tigers their two runs of the day.
The Tigers had plenty of chances to put more runs on the board, but that big hit never came. Risco left the bases loaded three times and stranded a total of 11 base runners.
"You have to take advantage of getting those runners across when you have them in scoring position," said Blankenship.
Holland came in to relieve Dustin Johnson in the fourth inning. Dustin Johnson pitched 3 2/3 innings giving up two runs on three hits. He also struck out four.
"I thought Dustin threw good enough for us to win," Limbaugh said. "He kind of got in trouble in the middle innings but, Nate (Holland) did a great job of coming in and shutting it down and eating up some innings for us."
Holland allowed just two hits and no runs during his 2 1/3 innings of work. Kamryn Johnson pitched the last inning for the Braves sitting down the Tigers' roster in order to end the game.
"Kamryn was the Trevor Hoffman for us," said Limbaugh. "He shut it down for us. Our defense played well behind our pitchers. We had our pitchers' back and that's something we've been trying to preach."
Ben Freed led the Braves with three hits and three RBIs. Minner and Holland each had two hits as well including a double from Minner.
Risco was led by Cummins who had two hits.
Scott Central 310 300 0 -- 7
Risco 000 200 0 -- 2
WP -- Dustin Johnson. LP -- Caleb McCord. 2B -- (S) Steven Minner.