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INDEPENDENCE –– With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and Grayson County having collected a grand total of zero hits up to that point, Dylan Isom was rung up by the plate umpire on a called third strike.
Good thing for the Blue Devils that it was really only strike two.
With the at-bat still alive, two pitches later Isom later poked a single over the shortstop’s head for Grayson’s first hit, sparking a three-run rally as the Blue Devils took a 4-0 nondistrict win Wednesday over Pulaski County at GNB Park.
Having finally broken the ice against Pulaski County starter Tyler Frazier, the hits just kept coming for the Devils (3-1). Dustin Leonard followed Isom with a lined single into center, ending Frazier’s day.
Jared Salts drew a bases-filling walk off of reliever Cody Ennis, and Nick Perkins came up with the biggest hit of the day, a two-run pinch-hit single into right.
Max Rodgers then slapped a base hit into shallow left to score Salts for a 3-0 Grayson County advantage.
The lead proved to be more than enough for Salts. The Blue Devils’ senior right-handed starter improved to 2-0 on the year with his second straight complete-game shutout despite allowing a season-high eight hits. Salts struck out six and walked none, and has yet to allow a run in 17 innings pitched this season.
Isom singled into right to drive in Spencer Roberts for a 4-0 cushion in the bottom of the sixth, and Salts had to work out of one final pickle to seal the shutout. Jordan Matusevich led off the seventh with a base hit before Johnny Warren saved a run with a leaping stab of Dustin Dishon’s liner into left. Back to the top of the Cougar order, Johnny Vest singled but Salts got consecutive groundouts to end the game.
Pulaski County couldn’t capitalize on eight hits and the Blue Devils, despite going hitless for 4 2/3 innings, had several early chances thanks to six walks and a pair of Cougar errors, but also came up empty.
Pulaski had at least one runner reach safely in six of the seven innings and left two stranded in three of its last four times at bat.
Rodgers, the Devils’ freshman right fielder, gunned down Jesse Dean trying to go from first to third on a two-out single in the second, then chased down a deep drive into the gap for the third out with two on in the fifth.
Grayson County had at least one runner in scoring position with one out in each the second, third and fourth innings, but Frazier escaped with back-to-back strikeouts all three times. He fanned 10 on the day but took the loss.
Matusevich, Vest and Frazier had two hits each for Pulaski County, as did Isom for the Blue Devils.