BY JAMES COLLIER
FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
VANCEBURG After knocking off Lewis County Monday night, Russell coach Tim Rice believed his club was in a great position to move to 2-0 to open 63rd District play against the Lions one night later.
The second-year skipper turned to his ace, Jaeden Layne, on the bump for the decisive second game in the series and, in turn, the right-hander delivered a performance that left “no” doubt in his coach’s sentiments.
Layne tossed a nohitter while striking out 11, including seven of the last eight batters he faced, to lead Russell to an 8-1 defeat of Lewis. The junior fanned every batter in the lineup at least once. He walked only two, both in the third inning, before retiring the final 12 batters in a row. Layne offered just 74 pitches in the nohit bid, needing double-digit pitches in only three of the seven innings of work.
“What he (Jaeden) did tonight was pretty special,” Rice said. “He’s growing every time he goes out. He’s the guy we rely on and he’s been throwing like that all year, but that was special tonight. We played clean behind him, but it’s easy to play defense behind guys like that. Take away those two walks in the third and we are talking about perfection.”
Lewis County skipper Walt Taylor echoed the words of Rice.
“Jaeden threw a whale of a game,” Taylor said. “We helped him, but we could just never get on him solid.”
The no-hitter was the first of Layne’s high school career. He admitted he was well aware of the situation early in the contest.
“I honestly knew it was there after the third, but I didn’t say anything,” Layne chuckled. “Then, in the fifth inning, I said it out loud and then after thinking about what I said, I went and knocked on some wood real quickly.”
As brilliant as Layne was on the mound, his offense tried to steal the show with a 10-hit effort, including five extra-base hits with none bigger than Austin Brinkman’s two-out, bases-clearing double in the fifth for a 7-1 edge. The two-out rally began with Landon Brewer’s second twobagger of the night followed by walks to Nick Conley and Chaz Whitt to set the stage for the senior catcher.
Russell stranded 11 total runners including leading the bases full of Devils in the second and fifth innings but managed to drive in four runs with two outs.
Whitt opened the scoring with an RBI double in the second off the wall to left center to score Casey Hensley after he reached on a leadoff walk. Conley provided the second run on a double to deep center followed by a passed ball and a Lewis error in the third.
Lewis managed to dent the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning after Garrett Applegate reached on a walk, stole second and third and scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Wyatt Yates to trim the deficit to 2-1.
However, much like Monday night, the Lions got no closer, as the Devils’ starting pitchers were dominant.
“That’s the reason we set up the rotation like we did,” Rice said. “We knew Troy Gillum was going to go out and throw strikes in Game 1 and give us a shot to win, but we knew we wanted to throw our best in Game 2 because, technically, it is the most important game.” Layne said while the no-no was pretty sweet, starting 2-0 in district play was a great feeling, too.
“It gives us confidence that we can really put it to anyone if we go out and put our minds to it,” Layne said.
Whitt, Brinkman and Brewer each turned in two hits with seven of the 10 Devils hitters that appeared collecting a hit.
RUSSELL 011 501 0— 810 0 LEWISCO. 001 000 0 — 1 0 3 Layne and Brinkman, Applegate, Wallingford (4) and Yates. W—Layne. L—Applegate. 2B— Brewer 2 (R), Brinkman (R), Conley (R), Whitt (R).
Russell 4, Lewis Co. 1
RUSSELL In a pitcher’s duel between starters Monday night at Russell High School, Troy Gillum tossed six innings before handing the ball off to Justin Manning for the save in the final frame.
The Devil duo combined for an eight-strikeout, fivehit performance with Gillum ringing up six.
Russell grabbed an early 10 lead in the first on a Landon Brewer RBI single that scored Kenith Gomez from second. Lewis answered with its first and only run of the affair in the second after a lead off walk to Garrett Applegate followed by a pair of stolen bases and a throwing error evened the score at 1-1.
The Red Devils grabbed the lead for good in the fourth after Seth Atkins reached on a lead off error by the Lions and scored on a Manning single to left for the 2-1 edge. Russell added two more in the fifth on a Nick Conley RBI triple off the wall to right center to score Brewer. Conley scored two pitches later on a wild pitch for the final run of the game. The senior cleanup hitter finished 2 for 4 at the plate.
Seth Wright worked all six innings for the Lions, allowing six hits while striking out nine and walking five in the losing effort.
LEWISCO. 010 000 0 — 1 5 2 RUSSELL 100 120 X— 4 6 2 Wright and Yates; Gillum, Manning (7) and Brinkman. W—Gillum. L—Wright. Save: Manning. 3B—Conley (R).