Baseball: Commander offense starts hot

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By Brandon Mattingly

The high school baseball season is underway and the Commanders sent a message during the opening week that while they lost several key pieces from last season, they’re still an offense to be reckoned with. The Commanders scored 27 runs while playing three games in three days last week on their way to posting a 2-1 record with both wins coming in five innings after run-ruling their opponent.

Washington County vs. Casey County
13-3 Washington County
When: Saturday, March 16
Where: Idle Hour Park
Key players: WCHS - Quincy Purdom
Game highlights: WC battled windy conditions in Saturday’s win and found themselves in an early hole, but they fought back to take control of the game quickly in a 13-3 victory.

Junior Travis Mattingly got the start on the mound, surrendering three runs in the first inning, but he was able to find the zone the rest of the way.

“Saturday, Travis Mattingly struggled a little in the first inning, but settled in and threw four shutout innings to finish the game,” said Commander Head Coach Derek Schuler.

Mattingly’s final line was five innings pitched, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and a hit batter. Mattingly, who also drove in a run at the plate, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter on his way to his first win of the season.

Senior Quincy Purdom had his most productive game of the opening week with hits in both of his official at-bats, including a double, to go with two walks, three RBI and a stolen base.

Sophomore Wade Moore was 2-for-3 with a run scored, a walk and a stolen base, while senior Thomas Spalding was 1-for-2 with a run scored with two walks and two steals. Senior Michael Mann scored twice and freshman catcher Trae Coulter doubled and walked in three plate appearances as well.

Washington County vs. Garrard County
7-3 Garrard County
When: Friday, March 15
Where: Idle Hour Park
Key players: WCHS - Travis Mattingly
Game highlights: Garrard County came to town on Friday and handed the Commanders their lone loss to this point, a 7-3 win for the Golden Lions.
Despite the loss, Schuler is happy with where his team stands early on.

“I am very pleased so far. We lost to Garrard County on Friday, but were up 3-2 late in that game and just weren’t able to hang on,” he said. “In the two wins we have played well and put teams away that we should put away.”

Senior starting pitcher Will Begley lasted six-and-two-thirds innings, giving up two earned runs and walking seven, while striking out three. He and fellow-senior Spalding impressed Schuler on back-to-back nights.

“Thomas Spalding looked very good on Thursday. Will Begley looked good and pitched out of a lot of tough situations on Friday and I’m very proud of the way he competed,” Schuler said.

Mattingly had the bat working on Friday night before taking the mound on Saturday, collecting three hits in four at bats, including a double, with three RBI. Moore added a double and a walk with a run scored and a stolen base.

Mattingly and Moore helped lead the Commanders to a late lead, but the Golden Lions’ offense came to life late, taking the lead and packing on three insurance runs to put the game away.

Washington County vs. Fort Knox
11-1 Washington County
When: Thursday, March 13
Where: Idle Hour Park
Key players: WCHS - Thomas Spalding, Wade Moore
Game highlights: They had to reschedule the game due to weather, but the Commanders were able to get the season opener with Fort Knox underway on Thursday afternoon. It was an easy win for WC, ending the game in five innings with a 11-1 win.

While Schuler said his team was confident they could beat Fort Knox and Casey County, the manner in which they’ve done it has been impressive.

“Scoring 10 or more runs isn’t easy regardless of who you are playing,” Schuler said. “The guys are staying focused and taking advantage of scoring opportunities.”

Spalding started the opener for Washington County and was stellar, allowing one earned run on two hits over five innings and striking out eight with four walks.

He also delivered at the plate, 2-for-4 with two stolen bases and a RBI. Moore was 2-for-3 with one stolen base and one RBI.

Overall, Schuler said he’s pleased with his team’s production from the start and that their goals aren’t changing.

“Our defense has been okay. We still have to sure up some areas, but that will come along as the season progresses,” he said. “We just need to keep the great attitude that we have right now and be able to say that we are getting better each week.”

Washington County was scheduled to host Green County on Monday night in the first round of the 5th Region All-A Classic, but the game was postponed for weather. A makeup date was not set as of press time.

The Commanders were scheduled to host Taylor County on Tuesday after press time before traveling to Anderson County on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. They’ll host Adair County on Friday at 6 p.m., take on Casey County on the road in a rematch at 11 a.m. on Saturday and welcome Spencer County on Monday at 5:30 p.m. Their first district matchup will be on Tuesday at Nelson County at 5:30 p.m.