Smock’s complete game gem propels Logan Co. past Franklin 4-2
RUSSELLVILLE —Franklin-Simpson denied Logan County a trip to the state tournament last season as the Wildcats handed the Cougars a 7-4 loss in the Region Four Championship Game.
The Cougars achieved revenge on Tuesday night.
Senior pitching ace Ethan Smock pitched a complete game gem, and Logan County broke a scoreless tie by exploding for four runs in the bottom of the fifth on the way to a 4-2 victory over the Wildcats in Russellville.
“It’s a big win for us because of what we had in the back of our mind after losing them in the region championship last year,” Logan County coach Ethan Meguiar said. “I’m sure a lot of our older guys have thought about that game for a long time, and (Tuesday night) it showed. Our guys had a really good mindset for the game (Tuesday night).”
Smock especially was in the right mindset after a shaky performance against Franklin in last year’s region championship game.
“I thought about it the whole day,” said Smock. “But I got on the mound the first inning and threw a few pitches, and I didn’t think about it. I’m over it.”
The senior was in steady control of the potent Wildcat lineup throughout the entire game, allowing just two runs on two hits and one walk while striking out 15.
“Ethan took his game to a little bit of a different level for us,” Meguiar said. “That’s the best that we’ve seen.”
Zach Sliger took the loss on the mound for Franklin-Simpson, surrendering four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out eight in 4 1/3 innings of work.
“It was a great pitchers’ duel, two good guys going on the mound for two good teams,” Franklin-Simpson coach Kyle Gammons said. “I think Zach was a touch off but he still competed, and that’s all that I ask from him.”
“I told them there’s nothing to hang your head about. I thought we competed well, we didn’t make a lot of mistakes…a well-played baseball game.”
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm at the plate through the first four innings, but Logan County finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth.
Austin Rayno led off with a walk, and the senior advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Wooden. Bradley Taylor singled to left to score Rayno and put the Cougars on the board before Kaleb Justice laced a double to right field to plate Taylor and push the Cougars’ advantage to 2-0.
The Cougars (7-3, 2-0 District 13) loaded up the bases after Koby Wall walked and Third Bell reached on an error, and Braxton Meguiar delivered a 2-RBI single to the gap in right to give Logan County a 4-0 lead going into the sixth inning.
“He’s been putting the ball into play well for us lately,” said Meguiar of his sophomore son’s clutch hit. “He’s probably never faced that type of competition on the mound so I’m real proud of him in that situation.”
Franklin-Simpson (7-5, 1-1) chipped into the deficit in the top of the sixth when Connor Rogers had an RBI double to score Rylan Thomas, and Rogers came around to score when Jacob Curtis reached on an error.
Logan County went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, and at 103 pitches it seemed that Meguiar would pull Smock and let a reliever from the bullpen earn the save.
But Meguiar trusted his senior, and Smock struck out three consecutive Wildcat batters to put the finishing touches on a truly remarkable performance on the mound.
“This early and this cold I didn’t want to send him back out there,” Meguiar said. “He had 103 pitches going into that last inning. But I felt like where we were in the order and what we had done up to that point he could finish.”
Logan County will make the trip southwest to Clarksville on Friday night to participate in the William Workman Spring Classic.
The Wildcats will travel to Station Camp (Gallatin, TN) on Thursday night before having five straight home games in Franklin.