MOREHEAD – The Dirtbags perhaps channeled their inner Alabama.
After Monday’s fourth annual 16th Region All-Star game at Don Hardin Legion Field, they could’ve warbled the country music legends’ “Dixieland Delight.” They took care of the Lumberkings, 8-0, at Don Hardin Legion Field.
After it was done, the Dirtbags — who took their nickname from California State-Long Beach’s baseball moniker — could’ve sung “High Cotton.”
What the Dirtbags did was essentially “Dixie Fire.” Mason Moore (Rowan County), Caden McDavid (East Carter), Justin Manning (Russell), Hall and Lewis County’s Seth Wright to just two hits.
You could’ve understood if Ashland’s Richie Hall was singing “The Closer You Get.” He was the only player who tallied two hits, he was hit by West Carter’s Trevor Callihan in the fourth and Bath County’s Landon Swartz in the eighth, and he scored a run.
“It’s good,” Hall said. “Even gettin’ hit, you still get on base.”
AJ Hacker, Rowan County’s Mr. Baseball and an Indiana University freshman, threw the ceremonial first pitch. “I think it was a strike,” he said. “I don’t think it had all my velo (velocity) on it, but (it was) it was right down the middle.”
In the bottom of the first, Wright merely flied out to right off fellow Lion Sam O’Keefe, the Lumberkings’ Most Valuable Player. It was part of his three-inning, two-hit shutout evening.
“My coaches had a lot of faith in me,” O’Keefe said. “I wasn’t striking a lotta guys out (he fanned just one), I was just getting outs with the defense behind me.”
Lewis County and Lumberkings coach Sammy Holder saw nothing but positives. After O’Keefe’s three innings and Wright’s five strikeouts over the final two he concluded, “Lewis County threw five scoreless innings.”
Hall scored his team’s opening run in the fourth: after being plunked, he took second on a wild pitch, went to third on a walk and scored on a passed ball.
Wright was the master of merriment in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Holder visited Callihan — followed by Wright, who stood on second.
“I was just having fun, trying to make the game fun,” Wright said. “I didn’t really say too much; Sammy said, ‘Don’t listen to him.’” For the Lumberkings, the rest of the game was “Heartbreak Express.” Callihan opened the fifth with a double off Manning, but he stayed there because Ashland’s Robbie Francis grounded out, Bath County’s Nathan Davis flied out to left and Boyd County’s Austin Mullins grounded out.
Davis’ out was noteworthy for a reason he might like to forget. Rowan County’s Shane Taylor fashioned an equal sign when he ran to his left and went parallel to the grass to snag what could’ve been extra bases.
Raceland’s Hunter Lacks doubled off Francis two outs into the bottom of the fifth. After Taylor walked, it was Francis vs. Hall — Hall’s infield single scored Lacks.
“I had to make sure I got on base there,” Hall said. “ … I went to a different gear right there. It was fifth or sixth; I felt like I was running pretty hard.”
The song of the sixth was “Roll On” because Raceland’s Brayden Kelly doubled and Greenup County’s Nick Eastham’s single led a three-run rampage.
Hall scored in the eighth on Ashton Lacey’s (Greenup County) single.
“It was a really fun game,” O’Keefe said. “It was fun to compete with the guys you competed against all year.”
LUMBERKINGS 000 000 000 — 0 2 2
DIRTBAGS 000 313 01x — 8 9 1
O’Keefe, Callihan (4), R. Francis (5), Mullins (6), Swartz (7), Buckner (8) and Binion, Lucas (4), Binion (6); Moore, McDavid (2) Manning (4), Hall (6), Wright (8) and Kelly, Eastham (5), Kelly (6). W-Manning. L-Callihan. 2B-Callihan (L), Lacks (D), Kelly (D).