Though the Raiders fell 8-3 to Knox Central Tuesday night, the game highlighted the improvement the team has made throughout the season, and they are getting strong at the right time. With just two games remaining before the District Tournament begins, the Raiders may finally be hitting their stride.
Coming off a week where the Raiders tripled their win totals with a 11-1 win over Lynn Camp and a 7-6 victory over Williamsburg, McCreary took on a tough Knox Central team Tuesday afternoon.
The Raiders twice held a lead in the contest, and only a four-run fourth inning for the Panthers prevented it from being an even closer outcome.
Pitcher Ethan Stephens retired the Panthers in order to start the game, then helped the Raiders take a lead in the bottom of the inning with his bat.
Alex West drew a walk to start the inning for McCreary, then advanced to second on Stephens’ base-hit to left. Caleb Dixon drove in the run with a flare to right, giving McCreary a 1-0 lead.
Knox tied it in the second, but McCreary’s defense prevented a break out inning. After Dixon caught a hard-hit line drive at third to start the second, Knox put the next four runners on base, but only managed one run. One runner was caught in a run down between third and home, erasing a potential run. Stephens struck out the final batter to keep the game tied.
Knox added a run in the third after a lead off walk scored on a single, but another nice defensive play prevented more runs. Aaron Jones in right field caught a fly ball and fired it back to first, catching a runner off base for a double play.
The Raiders took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third.
Nathan Goins was hit by a pitch with one out, and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice from Stephens, who also reached safely on the play. Cole Kidd laid down a perfect bunt on a safety squeeze play with Goins breaking for the plate. Stephens would score on a single from Devin Rose.
Knox would add four runs in the top of the fourth, all with two outs, on four hits and an error to take a 6-3 lead.
Two more Panther runs would cross the plate in the fifth, but the Raiders shut them down the rest of the way.
McCreary tried to rally, getting runners on base in each of the final three innings, but were unable to bring them home and eventually falling, 8-3.
The Raiders wrap up their regular season this week with two home games. Thursday they will host Corbin and Friday Rockcastle. Both games are scheduled to start at 5:30.
Friday the Raiders will also celebrate Senior Night, honoring their graduating players.