Owls Fall To Lebanon In High-Scoring Affair

by Rusty Ellis

The Smith County Owls rallied against a six-run deficit in the seventh inning on Saturday, but fell just short 12-9 against the Lebanon Blue Devils.

SCHS starter Jayden Preston struggled with command early, as he walked in a pair of Blue Devils runs and retired just a single batter before being pulled from the game. Kyler Gates replaced him and limited the damage to just those two runs, as the Owls took their first at-bats.

Smith County managed a three-run first inning, powered by an RBI single off the bat of Ty Martin and two run-scoring errors, as the Owls took a 3-2 lead into the second.

The lead didn’t last long however, as Lebanon tied it right away in the second inning. Both teams settled in on the mound after that however, as neither would scratch another run across until the fifth inning.

Lebanon plated three runs there to take a 6-3 lead, but the Owls wouldn’t go away quietly. They matched it with a three-run inning of their own, capped by a Kaden Powell RBI triple to knot the score at 6-6.

The Blue Devils responded once again however, as they scored three runs apiece in the sixth and seventh innings to take a 12-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh.

The Owls put together a two-out rally, as Maddux Bradley drove in a run with an RBI single before Evan King followed with one of his own. Wyatt Claywell coaxed a bases-loaded walk to make the score 12-9, but a foul-out by Kylan Johnson ended the game at that score in favor of Lebanon.

Claywell took the loss on the mound, as he surrendered six runs (three earned) in four innings with six strikeouts.

For head coach Derek Bush, he says there’s a lot to be proud of as far as how his guys battled late. There just wasn’t enough juice to get them over the hump.

“That’s a good 4A school and we’re in day three of a tournament, so we were just trying to find arms to eat up innings,” Bush said. “I was proud of our guys, they competed and had some good at-bats. We’ve got to clean up some things defensively, but day three of a tournament is always going to be tough for us.”

Whenever Lebanon seemed to take control of the game, the Owls battled their way back into the game and gave themselves a chance down to the last out. Bush says that when his guys are fully locked in, they can be a tough team for anyone to take down.

“They’re just locked in, we’ve got some really talented hitters,” Bush said. “We’ve got some guys that have some great swings and can work some counts. We run the bases really well, even if we do make some mistakes, but we’ve got some polished hitters that know what they’re doing.”

Smith County will now turn their attention to Watertown on Monday in what should be a battle for first-place in the district. As far as what he wants to see his team do better, Bush says he wants them to hone in on the aggressiveness they play with.

“We’ve got to clean up some baserunning stuff, we’re uber-aggressive and that’s good, but we’ve got to pull the reigns back,” Bush said. “We’ve got to be smarter when we’ve got guys in scoring possession with less than two outs. We need to get big two-out hits here and there.”