May 25—LLOYD AJ James gave Jonah Gibson quite the wake-up call.
Gibson was on the mound and one out away from locking up a one-run victory for Greenup County on Monday night when James, Paintsville’s No. 9 hitter, rocketed the ball down the left-field line with the would-be tying run aboard.
It landed left of the chalk, by about a foot.
“Once it was foul I thought, I’m not gonna give him another one to hit,” Gibson said. “Just gotta put it away soon. So we did.”
Gibson indeed got a groundout to third base to end the Musketeers’ 2-1 win over the Tigers.
Gibson limited Paintsville to one hit over the final four and one-third innings and Brock Kitchen and Elijah Hankins each drove in a run. Greenup County ended a four-game skid in its first outing of the final week of the regular season.
It was also the Musketeers’ second one-run victory over the Tigers in a span of eight days. Greenup County beat Paintsville, tied for the most wins in the 15th Region, 1-0 on May 17 at Charlie Adkins Field.
“Beating a Paintsville team like that two weeks in a row says a lot of what we can do,” Musketeers coach Greg Logan said, emphasizing the “can.” He continued with a grin, “Sometimes the wheel will fall off, then the axle, then the engine, but tonight we kept the tires on it and we got a win there.”
Greenup County set a tone of resilience on the first at-bat of the game. Paintsville’s Harris Phelps rocketed a double to right field, but Musketeers right fielder Matthew Boggs got it to the cutoff man, second baseman Bradley Adkins, who spotted Phelps too far off the bag and threw to shortstop Hankins covering second in time to pick Phelps off.
“That guy’s, I think, one of the best hitters around,” Logan said of Phelps. “That was a big boost for us there, just to clear the bases. Especially if you give him second base with no outs, I think it starts putting pressure, like, ‘here we go.’ That was a big play for us.”
Hankins turned an unassisted double play to end the second inning. Paintsville’s Jonah Porter provided an RBI single to score Ashton Miller with two outs in the third, and the Tigers still had two runners on, but Gibson escaped that jam with a strikeout.
The Musketeers hurler then sat down eight straight hitters and only allowed three more baserunners — two of them on errors. Gibson finished with a complete-game six-hitter, allowing one run on zero walks with three strikeouts.
“I just tried to throw a lot of strikes,” Gibson said. “I don’t have overpowering stuff, just try and let them get themselves out. That’s what I did.”
To that end, Logan credited Gibson’s “grit” on the hill.
“That’s (throwing) three pitches for strikes,” Logan said. “I thought I saw 75, 76 (mph) on the scoreboard a couple times. You better throw three pitches, or four or five pitches, for strikes, because you ain’t gonna beat a whole lot of people with 75. That’s just batting practice there.
“But when you move it around, mix it up the way he did, that’ll win a lot of high school ball games.”
It wasn’t Gibson’s Senior Night — those ceremonies were held before the game for the Musketeers’ Auston Clarkson, the team’s lone 12th-grader — but Logan figures the memory will stick with the junior.
“That will be one that he’ll remember,” Logan said of Gibson’s outing. “He’ll take that with him forever. Probably when he gets done with it, he’ll say he had 21 strikeouts, no-hit, perfect game. But that’s OK. Jonah, he deserved that.”
Greenup County (16-17) backed Gibson when Cohen Underwood beat a throw home on Hankins’s second-inning two-out single and Kitchen drove in Clarkson in the third frame.
Hunter Clevenger went 3 for 3 for the Musketeers.
Paintsville (24-8) dropped its fifth game in its last nine contests after a 14-1 stretch.
“We’re just not hitting the baseball,” Tigers coach Walt Crace said. “Pitching and defensively, we’re doing good. Just can’t hit.”
The Tigers made a series of sparkling plays in the field. Right fielder Grayson Peters threw out a Musketeer at home to end the first inning, James left his feet for a snag in foul ground to begin the bottom of the fourth and Phelps made a diving catch to end that frame.
Phelps had two hits for Paintsville. Miller took the hard-luck loss, compiling four strikeouts and two walks.
Porter had a scare in the fourth inning defensively. He was inadvertently caught by a cleat in the chin and throat area covering second base as a Musketeer slid past him headfirst into the bag. After treatment, Porter stayed in the game.
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PAINTSVILLE 001 000 0 — 1 6 0
GREENUP CO. 011 000 X — 2 8 2
Miller and Jefferson; Gibson and Bays. W — Gibson. L — Miller. 2B — Phelps (P), Boggs (GC).