19th DISTRICT BASEBALL TOURNAMENT: Cards move past Generals with 6-0 win

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B'town v. WC, NC v. Bethlehem in Tuesday's semifinals




Special To The Standard

Nelson County, led by a two-hit shutout performance by pitcher Collin Runner, advances to the 19th District semifinals after topping Thomas Nelson 6-0.

Runner suffered from some control issues through the game, walking five batters, but his 12 strikeouts allowed him to get out of any jams he worked himself into.

“Started off a little rough … felt better as I went along,” Runner said. “Curveball wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but I relied on the fastball.”

“You don’t see many double-digit strikeout performances,” Nelson County coach David Sparrow said. “When you do, it keeps your defense in tune. It gets you back in the dugout to be able to score some runs. Big performance by a senior that’s meant a lot to this team.”

Runner also singled and scored in the second inning, giving himself all the run support he would need.

Senior outfielder and leadoff hitter Ryan Culver led the way offensively for the Cardinals (17-18), going 3-for-4 with two doubles in the right center gap and an RBI triple up the hill in straightaway right.

“Perfect leadoff,” Sparrow said of Culver. “You want your leadoff to get on. That’s why he’s there.”

“After I saw it a few times, it was there every time, and I just went up and hit it,” Culver added.

Thomas Nelson threatened in the second when Runner walked consecutive batters, and then threw a ball in the dirt that catcher Barrett McGill couldn’t locate in time, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. However, the next two batters struck out to end the inning.

“We’re not capitalizing with runners on,” Generals coach Chris Downs said. “We get guys on, one out, and we’re striking out. You’ve got to put the ball in play.”

Defensive miscues proved costly for Thomas Nelson (4-31) in the third, and the Cardinals took full advantage, scoring four to push the lead to 5-0. Cameron Lovvorn’s two-run single was the big blow in the frame.

Culver’s RBI triple plated another run in the fourth to push the lead to its eventual final.

“I get a lot more confident when we can put runs on the board, especially that many,” Runner said about his team’s offensive performance.

Thomas Nelson catcher Kendall Roller was instrumental in stopping many would-be Nelson County rallies. The junior picked off Colton Brewer to end the second inning, caught two runners stealing, and successfully defended home on two plays at the plate in key moments.

“Kendall Roller needs to be behind the plate,” Downs said, acknowledging Roller’s success at shortstop as well. “He made some plays back there that we haven’t made all year because he hasn’t been in that spot. I’d like to seem him catch full time next year.”

Despite the disappointing end for Thomas Nelson, Downs is optimistic about the team’s performance and looks for his young team to improve next year. Three seniors graduate, and Downs said he’s planning to work a lot with his pitchers and catchers in the offseason.

Nelson County will meet top-seeded Bethlehem (20-12) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in a rematch from last year's district semifinals. The Cardinals will look to avenge that tough loss to the Eagles, a game that saw Bethlehem rally back from deficits of 6-0 and 11-4 with a seven-run seventh inning to win 13-12. No. 2 seed Bardstown (17-18) faces No. 3 seed Washington County at 5:30 p.m. on the Tigers' home field.