Daniel delivers again

Sam Daniel enhanced his reputation as an RBI man for Scott County baseball Monday night, knocking in four runs to help the Cardinals cruise at Lafayette, 11-1, and defeat the Generals for the third consecutive year.

Other baseball programs in the 11th Region had an easier time than Scott County navigating the ups and downs of March and April.

Lafayette was slotted ahead of SC in every major poll or computer ranking used to align those teams heading into the Generals' senior game Monday night. Objectively speaking, when examining the entire body of work, maybe the case is understood.

The Cards clearly have turned a corner in mid-May, however, and much to the Generals' chagrin, they were standing in the middle of the road.

Scott County slammed Lafayette by the eye-opening final of 11-1, a verdict to shortened to five innings by the mercy rule. Extra mercifully, one might have concluded at 11 p.m. on a school night.

Sam Daniel, carving out a reputation as an RBI machine in his first season as a varsity starter, knocked in a career-high four from the designate hitter slot. He was 3-for-3.

Kyle Harbison, Trace Willhoite and Philip Garner each had two of Scott County's dozen hits. Harbison, Willhoite and Trent Fox combined to score eight runs from the upper third of the Cardinal lineup.

On the heels of a one-hitter at Henry Clay in his previous start, Jordan Fox combined with fellow left-hander Cade McKee for another one.

Fox gave up that hit to Josh Halterman and struck out four through three innings before yielding to McKee, who retired all six Generals he faced.

Those two will be the likely starters for SC when it chases a fourth consecutive 42nd District championship Sunday and Monday at Henry Clay.

Scott County jumped out on Lafayette (23-10) with three runs in the top of the first inning and continued the onslaught with two in the third, two in the fourth and four in the fifth.

Fox, Harbison and Willhoite opened the game with consecutive singles, with Harbison hustling out a perfectly placed bunt.

Daniel's single to center pushed home a pair. After Gavin Hall walked Philip Garner, Beniam Bond's fielder choice tallied the third run.

Lafayette drove up Fox's pitch count but rarely took advantage.

A two-out rally in the bottom of the first was the lone exception. Halterman's double was followed by an Austin Blake walk. Fox nicked Hall with a 2-2 pitch to load the bases, and Max Williams drew a base on balls to force home a run.

Fox fanned Jack Harris to avert further damage. He drew a fly ball from Halterman to strand to more after a walk and an error in the second.

SC's lead grew to 5-1 in the third. Willhoite led off with a single, stole second, took third on the ensuing throwing error and scored on McKee's groundout. Benner later backed up a walk by Bond with an RBI single.

Book-end strikeouts by Fox denied Lafayette after two walks in the third. Having thrown 81 pitches at that point, the Eastern Kentucky University signee was deemed done for the night.

The Cards piled up more offense on his behalf in the fourth. Trent Fox's walk and a Harbison single made it 6-1. Daniel's two-out base hit delivered an additional run.

Willhoite's sensational sliding catch in right field foul territory took care of Ryan Busseni to close out a 1-2-3 fourth for McKee.

SC finished it with a two-out flurry in the next frame. Set up by walks from Benner and Trent Fox, Willhoite drew another pass with the bases loaded. McKee, Daniel and Garner followed with consecutive run-producing singles.

McKee struck out the side to invoke the run rule and continue a familiar refrain: Scott County ousted Lafayette in both the 2017 and 2018 region semifinals.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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