The Dragons (17-7) used their opener in the round-robin Louisville Invitational Tournament to extend their winning streak to five games. They earned the win not only because of Cecil’s fourth complete-game shutout of the season, but because of some timely hitting as well.
“I’ve got a good defense behind me,” Cecil said. “Whenever they make plays, it gives me confidence. So, we just work as a team. We end up getting the outs and scratch away some runs. End up winning the game.”
South Oldham jumped early on Bullitt East starter Kyle McKinley (4-2). Devin Bishop led off the game with a single to left. Two outs later, he scored on Tanner Johnson’s line-drive base hit to right that just got over the glove of Chargers’ second baseman Matthew Bryant.
That was the first of three straight singles by the Dragons. The third, a single to left by Mason Dale brought home Nick Morrison, a courtesy runner for the catcher Johnson, from second base.
McKinley would allow just two more hits the rest of the way although he also hit three batters. One of those hit batsmen was Bishop leading off in the fifth. Two outs later, he’d score on Johnson’s second run-scoring single of the night.
Not only did all three of the Dragons’ runs come with two outs, the three hits that drove them in all came with two strikes.
Cecil never really was challenged by the Chargers (15-6). He walked two in addition to giving up the three hits, but no Bullitt East player even reached second base. At one point, the Berea signee retired nine of 11 batters he faced.
The Chargers, which lost its LIT opener to DeSales on Thursday, had scored 76 runs in its previous seven games before running into a buzzsaw on the mound.
“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty well,” Chargers coach Jeff Bowles said. “(Cecil) kept us off balance. He had a nice curveball, and we didn’t do a whole lot with it.”
After Jacob Reese started the Bullitt East seventh with a single, Cecil (5-1), who struck out five, got the last three batters he faced on strikes to end the game. While Driskell had someone warming up in the bullpen, South Oldham coach Todd Driskell said he wanted his senior to finish the game.
The tournament is scheduled to conclude Saturday. In the Bullitt East segment, South Oldham will play DeSales at 10 a.m. and then LaRue County immediately after. The host Chargers will then play the Hawks right after the Dragons play them.
With the postseason starting in just a couple weeks, both Bowles and Driskell said this weekend’s games will help them get ready for district and possibly regional play.
“We took a step in the right direction with (Cecil) jumping up right there and rising to the occasion,” Driskell said.