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The outdoor temperature was almost better suited for a hockey match-up than a baseball game when the Carroll County Panthers came to do battle with the Trimble County Raiders on the baseball diamond Thursday.
Spectators who braved the cold either snuggled in blankets on the aluminum bleachers or huddled by their car heaters as the boys of spring held a frost fest.
Catcher’s mitts, fielders’ and batters’ gloves were no protection for the lads as heavy, gray clouds cast a gloomy pall over the event.
In a game of back and forth it was the Panthers who ultimately prevailed with a 9-6 outcome. “It was a great win,” Carroll County head coach Jay Jones said. “We’re going to have to learn to win ugly. We may never be sexy again (like last year’s team).”
Carroll got on the proverbial scoreboard (Trimble’s wasn’t functioning) early with a run in the top of the first inning. Trimble answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to take what would be a short-lived advantage at 2-1.
The Panthers added two more runs in the top of the third and Trimble answered with a run in the bottom of the inning and the score was 3-3 after three.
Carroll County took command in the fourth on the strength of a three-run homer by Zach Wise and an RBI triple by Ethan Stewart.
The Raiders loaded the bases on their offensive end of the next three innings but managed to get only one run across the plate in the process.
“We squandered a lot of opportunities,” Trimble Coach Frank Ragland said. “I don’t know what the final count is but I’m guessing we left somewhere between 13-15 runners on base. We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had to score. This is one we should’ve got. We had opportunities to win and we just didn’t get it.”
Jones said he was happy to get the win over a Raiders team that lost only one senior from last year’s team and has already beaten a tough Owen County team. The Panthers took a 11-1 “shellacking” from Grant County in their season opener away Tuesday and were unable to practice Wednesday because of a tornado watch. However, he said there were no complaints from his team about missing practice or the cold Thursday night. “They’re staying hungry,” he said.
After the game, Jones stressed to his veterans that if they step up and make plays, the young guys will follow their example. “I think we have the athleticism and key guys to be good,” he said. “On a given day we can battle with anybody or get it handed to us pretty good. … It was key to show we could turn it on and now we’re just got to keep it on.”
Ragland said the weather conditions affected both teams and was not an excuse for the loss.
“We practice in this weather and you play in this weather,” he said. “You know, it’s Kentucky baseball. It’s going to be cold!”
At the conclusion of the contest the Bedford Loan & Deposit Bank thermometer displayed 34 degrees.