Commanders split first district games amidsts road trip

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By Brandon Mattingly

Commander baseball (4-5) dropped two of three games last week and two of those matchups were district bouts, a 3-1 win at Bardstown on Friday and a 7-6 loss at Nelson County on Saturday. Washington County has posted a 2-2 record just over halfway through its current seven-game road trip.

Washington County @ Nelson County
7-6 Nelson County
When: Saturday, March 23
Where: Nelson County High School
Key players: WCHS - Michael Mann, Trae Coulter NCHS - Alex Briney
Game highlights: The Commanders found the offense early against the Cardinals, hanging three runs in the opening frame. Senior Thomas Spalding led off with a bunt hit, followed by a walk by freshman Trae Coulter and a single by junior Adam Smith to load the bases.

Junior Travis Mattingly was hit by a pitch to bring home the first run and senior Quincy Purdom drew a walk to make it 2-0 WC. Senior Michael Mann added a sacrifice fly to right field to give his team a three-run advantage right away.

Nelson County was quick to respond, however, drawing back-to-back walks to start the inning and getting a bases loaded, two-run knock by junior Alex Briney three batters later to cut the lead to one run.

The scoring resumed in the fifth inning, when Purdom and Mann each drew bases loaded walks to drive in runs, leading to a 5-2 Washington County lead.

Coulter tacked on another run with a RBI double in the sixth, but Washington County wasn’t out of the woods, despite a four-run advantage.

A pair of Nelson County hits by senior Paden Vernon and sophomore Zech Mauldin and an error on the Commanders led to two Cardinal runs to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the sixth inning.

After Washington County was unable to pad the lead in the top of the seventh, Nelson County found some walkoff magic.

The Cardinals started the final frame with back-to-back singles, followed by a RBI double by Briney. A Washington County error led to the tying run for Nelson County and with the winning run in scoring position, another Commander error allowed the winning run to scamper home, dropping WC’s district record to 1-1.

Mann and Purdom each drove in two runs for the Commanders, with Coulter and Mattingly adding one each.

Briney was 3-for-3 with three RBI to lead the Cardinals to the win.
Senior Will Begley was on the mound for WC at the start, lasting four innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks.

Washington County @ Bardstown
3-1 Washington County
When: Friday, March 22
Where: Bardstown High School
Key players: WCHS - Thomas Spalding, Adam Smith
Game highlights: Washington County was victim to final-inning heroics on Saturday, but it was WC who dished out the final blow in Friday’s contest, a 3-1 Commander road win at Bardstown.

The Tigers’ struck first after a run scored on a Commander error in the second inning and that was it for either offense through the first five.

Washington County finally evened the score in the sixth with sophomore Wade Moore reaching on a leadoff single then stealing second base. Moore then took advantage of a wild throw by Bardstown’s pitcher, which led to the tying run. With the score still tied in the top of the seventh, senior Michael Godshall walked and eventually scored on a defensive interference following two stolen bases. Mattingly was hit by a pitch and pinch runner Colton Nolan crossed the plate for an insurance run with a Smith double in the following at bat.

Spalding, who lasted all eight innings on the mound for the Commanders hit a batter with two outs in the inning, but was able to induce a groundout to third base to preserve the win in Washington County’s district opener.

Spalding went eight inning, allowing just one earned run on five hits, while striking out 10 and walking none. Smith was 1-for-3 in the batter’s box with the team’s lone RBI.

Washington County @ Spencer County
4-1 Spencer County
When: Thursday, March 21
Where: Spencer County High School
Key players: WCHS - Thomas Spalding
Game highlights: The Commander offense produced enough for the win at Bardstown and had a nice showing in the one-run loss at Nelson County, but they were too stagnant on Thursday at Spencer County to have a shot in a 4-1 loss.

The Bears got a run in the second and two more in the third to claim an early lead and they protected home field from there.

Spencer County didn’t deliver many big hits on their way to a three-run lead, but used walks, singles and a pair of Washington County errors to scrape three runs across.

Begley was responsible for the lone WC run, singling to lead off the sixth and scoring with the help of a Spalding base hit.

A RBI double tacked on Spencer County’s fourth run in the bottom of the sixth to cap the scoring

Smith led the seventh inning off with a double, but would be stranded there with three straight strikeouts of Commander hitters to end the game.

Spalding was the lone Commander with two hits on the day, with Smith and Begley adding one each.

Washington County faced Bellevue on Monday, but results were not available as of Tuesday morning. WC visited Holmes (1-2) on Tuesday after press time. Next up for WC will be a road meeting with Conner (3-2) on Thursday at 5 p.m. and a first-round All-A Classic matchup with Green County (8-2) at home on Monday.