STANFORD — The Lincoln County baseball team dropped its sixth straight game Tuesday afternoon, falling 5-2 to 45th District rival Danville.
The game was deadlocked at 1-1 after three innings, but the visiting Admirals broke the tie in the top of the fourth, using a three run effort to go on top to stay. Will Graham, Jack Graham and John Roney strung together three straight hits for the Admirals to lead off the inning and all resulted in runs to set Danville (18-11, 3-3 district) up for the win.
Lincoln (8-13, 1-4) had nothing to answer for Danville’s breakout inning to stop the Patriots’ skid.
“We’ve just got to start getting hits with two outs. That’s the thing,” Lincoln coach Brad McNew said. “It’s been that way all year long and it’s frustrating. We had runners on, it wasn’t that at all. We’ve just got to start getting hits with two outs”
Lincoln got just four hits off Danville starter Kyle Lange, Ben Mahan and Nick Serey, but was able to get more runners on off seven walks, one hit batter and an error. Nine of those runners were left standing.
“It’s amazing how many guys we leave on base,” McNew said. “Paul (Morse) tried to mix us up a little bit, and it bothered us a little but nothing too bad. We just couldn’t get that big hit to fall. There’s nothing you can do about that.”
It was a Danville fielding error that put Lincoln’s first run on board, with John Day making the most of the misplayed ball in the second inning. Day stole second then, with two outs, came home on a passed ball to give Lincoln a 1-0 edge.
Danville got back the run in the top of the third. Chase Ransdell tagged a one-out single to centerfield to reach, stole second base then advanced to third on a Jason Stamm groundout. Jay Hunn evened the game up at 1-1 when he delivered a double to centerfield to score Ransdell.
The Admirals came out and really applied the pressure in the fourth when the Grahams and Roney tagged their three straight hits. Will Graham led off the fourth inning with a single to left field, Jack Graham followed with a short shot to center then Roney stepped up with an RBI-double to left to score Jack. Will later scored on a wild pitch by Lincoln’s Logan Young, and Roney made it a 4-1 ballgame when he scored on a Robert Rowland sacrifice out.
“They were in a bunting situation then the guy pulls the bat back and hits a nice ball out there in the outfield. That’s the big hit we don’t get,” McNew said. “They got that hit and then were able to put a few more up off of that and get a little cushion. Those were the big hits, and we haven’t gotten them all year.”
Lincoln made it a 4-2 ballgame in the bottom of the fourth, with Boone Baird reaching on a two-out single and speedup Nate Benson scoring on a wild pitch.
But Lincoln would not score again.
Austin Greer, who earned a base on balls after Baird’s hit, threatened to put up another Lincoln run in the fourth. Greer stole his way to third off wild pitches only to be tagged out while trying to steal home after a Nolan Sanders walk.
“We take a shot there with Greer trying to run home,” McNew said. “That’s from not being productive offensively, and we’re trying to do things to get runs. That could have been a momentum changer if the throw is high or is off, but they got him.”
Lincoln had runners on second and third in the fifth off a Dylan King fielder’s choice and a Day double and runners were on first and second in the sixth after a Baird walk and Sanders single. All runners were left standing.
The Patriots threatened to score in six of the seven innings played, beginning in the first. Sanders was hit by Lange on the game’s first pitch then Josh Wilson walked on. With one out, King hit a fly ball to second and Hunn made the catch. Hunn dropped the ball but not before umpire Adam Gooch called it out. Danville then tagged out Wilson at second to end the inning.
Tanner Leigh singled to center in the third inning and made it all the way to third base only to have Mahan get out of the inning on two pop outs.
Danville had runners left on third base in the third, sixth and seventh innings.
Logan Young started on the mound for Lincoln and gave up five runs with seven hits and one hit batter in six innings up. He had seven strikeouts. Aaron Estes pitched the seventh with one hit and one strikeout.
Danville’s Lange gave up one unearned run, with two walks, one hit batter and one strikeout before he was replaced by Mahan in the second inning. Mahan allowed one hit. Serey came on in the fourth and gave up one run with three hits, four walks and three strikeouts.
With the district tournament just a few weeks away, McNew says the Patriots need to put the Danville loss behind them and work on getting better.
“The calendars turned now and it’s May. It’s almost that time,” he said. “I still say that the main thing is to ‘Be great by May.’ We’ve got to be better that one night. It doesn’t matter who we play, we’ve got to be better that night. That’s what we’re working for.”