Starting off strong has been the early trend for the Pioneers this season. Warren County kept it going when it began District 6-4A play at home Monday against Shelbyville.
The Pioneers picked up their first district win against the Eagles, winning 7-4 in an action-packed battle at Patrick Ramsey Field. Junior Baler Melton picked up his second win this year by scattering seven hits and four runs over seven innings, while Easton Denning flashed plenty of pop at the plate to guide the Pioneers to their fourth win in five games.
Denning highlighted a 2-for-2 night with a solo homer in the first, giving the Pioneers an early 1-0 lead. The junior slugger left no doubt when he blasted the first pitch he saw over the trees in centerfield, then later added a single during a five-run third inning that put Warren County up for good.
Shelbyville gave the Pioneers a scare by scoring three runs in the second to go up 3-1 and battling to the very end, but Warren County continued its run of dominance against the Eagles. The Pioneers have now won five of their six meetings with Shelbyville since the teams began district foes last year.
“Getting a win – any win – is big, but it’s huge to get that first district win, especially in such a tight game. Shelbyville swung the bat well,” said King.
Aided by a pair of Pioneer errors in the second, Shelbyville was able to touch up Melton for three runs early. Melton also surrendered a pair of two-out singles to keep the rally alive, but the righty managed to escape a lot of extra trouble the rest of the way.
He hit three consecutive batters in the sixth to plate Shelbyville’s fourth run, but Melton followed with back-to-back strikeouts with the bases juiced to end the threat and added his fifth K in the final inning to cap a gritty performance.
“I didn’t feel like Baler had his best stuff, but he’s a warrior and fought to give us a chance. He got stronger as the game went on,” said King.
Pitching with the lead down the stretch helped. Warren County made sure to build Melton a cushion in the third, including the hurler helping his own cause.
Melton started a big rally by sending a single into left field with the bases loaded, plating Jax King. Aiden Miller, fresh off a six-RBI performance in a win against Oakland over the weekend, followed with a two-run since to center, allowing Hayden Collins and Denning to circle the bases.
Alex van Vuuren added an RBI single in the third to make it 6-4, part of a two-RBI performance for the junior centerfielder. Van Vuuren also scored the team’s final run by collecting a free pass, stealing second, moving to third on an error and walking home on a balk in the sixth.
Shortstop Brayan Holguin helped the Pioneers pick up the win with his defense, turning a double play in the fourth on a hard liner after Shelbyville loaded the bases with one out.
Warren County will be looking to stay hot Thursday when it takes on Huntland at home. Action is set to start at 6 p.m. The JV Pioneers will also be in action at home this week as the youngsters will face Shelbyville in a doubleheader Wednesday starting at 5 p.m.