By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
This past weekend, the Washington County Commanders swept the competition at the Chandler Classic to win the tourney with a 9-3 first round win over Simon Kenton and then pummeling Burgin 15-7 for the title.
It was a return to form for the WC squad as they won three of their last four to improve to 6-5 on the season.
“We played better,” said WC head coach Derek Schuler. “We did a lot better closing, putting teams away, that was the difference. Before Saturday, we were averaging half as many runs in the fifth through seventh innings as we were in the first through the fourth. That’s something we’re trying to focus on. If we do that, we’ll be OK.”
The Chandler Classic took place at Chandler Park in Versailles.
In their first game, the Commanders faced the Pioneers from Simon Kenton High School. Fergus McCain got the start for WC.
Washington County got on the board first with two runs in the top of the first off a two-run homer from senior shortstop Joe Joe Simms. The Pioneers got a run back in the bottom.
Simon Kenton tied it up in the fourth, but it didn’t last long as the Commanders added two in the top of the fifth. Travis Smith relieved McCain on the mound.
The Pioneers got another run in the bottom of the fifth to stay close, but the Commanders pulled away again by putting up a five-spot in the top of the sixth to make the score 9-3, and that’s the way it would stay as the Commanders put away the Pioneers.
The big hitter for WC was Joe Joe Simms, who went three-for-three with five RBIs.
Ben Simms, McCain, and Alex Simms had two hits each, while Jordan Settles, Hunter Goatley and Tyler Smith each had one hit.
McCain pitched four innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits while striking out two and walking four.
Smith pitched three innings in relief, allowing one earned run on four hits while striking out four and allowing no walks.
In the nightcap, WC faced off against the Burgin Bulldogs. Junior Tyler Smith took the mound for WC.
The Bulldogs got a run in the top of the first, but the Commanders took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning on an RBI groundout by Alex Simms and an RBI double by Settles.
Burgin answered in the top of the second with two runs to take a 3-2 lead.
The Commanders broke the game wide open in the bottom of the third by tagging Bulldog senior pitcher Blake Sexton for nine runs.
McCain walked, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Alex Simms. Alex’s brother Joe Joe followed with a double. A single by Settles drove in Alex as Joe Joe advanced to third. Settles stole second and Ben Bishop reached on a walk to load the bases.
Ben Simms walked to bring another run home. After Joseph Hamilton struck out swinging, Goatley walked to plate another WC run.
The Bulldogs continued to struggle on the mound as Sexton walked Tyler Smith to bring another run home for the Commanders.
As Washington County batted around, McCain got an RBI single, followed by a two-RBI single by Alex Simms. Settles walked to bring McCain home.
Sexton managed to get the final out of the inning, and after the smoke cleared, the Commanders had a commanding 11-3 lead over Burgin.
Burgin got one run in the top of the fourth, but WC put two more on the board in the bottom to take a 13-4 lead after four.
The Bulldogs touched Smith for two runs in the fifth, but the Commanders answered with two in the bottom of the sixth to lead 15-6 as Burgin got their last at-bat and their final chance to come back.
The Bulldogs got one more run, but Smith was able to close out the game for the Commanders, going the distance by giving up seven earned runs on 10 hits while striking out six and walking two.
Alex Simms had the big bat for WC, going three-for-five with five RBIs. McCain went four-for-four with three RBIs and Settles went two-for-three with three RBIs. Joe Joe Simms, Ben Simms, Goatley and Tyler Smith all had an RBI each for the Commanders.
In action late last week, the Commanders started their run with a 5-3 home victory over Central Hardin (5-1). The Bruins were riding a five-game win streak coming into play at Tom Bystrek Field. Joseph Hamilton took the mound for WC while Central hardin countered with Kyle Nichols. The Bruins struck first with three runs on four hits in the top of the first.
The Commanders answered with three of their own in the bottom of the frame to even things up. Hamilton settled down after a rocky start and had some solid defense behind him to get some key outs.
WC added a run in the second and another in the third to take a 5-3 lead after three innings. Dylan Shoffner came on in relief of Nichols, who gave up three earned runs on three hits while striking out two and walking three. Hamilton continued to pitch masterfully, letting his defense in the field do the work.
Central Hardin simply could not put anything together through the final four innings and went home with a 5-3 loss to the Commanders.
Hamilton went the distance, allowing three earned runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking four.
Fergus McCain, Joe Joe Simms, Tyler Smith and Ben Simms all had a hit each for the Commanders.
The following day, it was Washington County’s time to hit the road as they traveled to Stanford to do battle with the Lincoln County Patriots. Matthew Osbourne started on the mound for the Commanders.
Things started innocently enough in the first as the Commanders went quietly in the top of the inning. Lincoln County got on the board first with one run in the bottom.
WC tied it up in the top of the second, but they pounded the Patriots in the top of the third to add four more runs, taking a commanding 5-1 lead.
Lincoln chipped away at the lead, adding a run in the bottom of both the fourth and fifth innings to climb within two. McCain replaced Osbourne on the mound with two outs in the fourth.
Washington County added a run in the top of the sixth as Tyler Coulter scored on an error by the third baseman to take a 6-3 lead.
Despite the insurance run by Coulter, the Patriots cashed in the policy by hitting the Commanders up for five runs in the bottom of the sixth.
McCain got knocked out of the game after giving up four earned runs. Senior Joe Joe Simms took over for McCain, getting the last two outs of the inning while allowing one run.
The Commanders couldn’t put anything together in the top of the seventh as they fell 8-6 to Lincoln County.
Washington County is on the road for their next two games, the first being at Shelby County on April 16, and then it’s district action against Nelson County in Bardstown on April 21.
Be sure to keep up with Washington County sports each week in The Springfield Sun and online at www.readthesun.com.