HERRIN — Carterville's baseball team moved to 3-1 on the young season, defeating Herrin 10-4 Monday. Bruce White was on the mound for the Lions until he was replaced by Nikolas Laird in the bottom of the second inning.
After Carterville scored a run in the top of the second, Herrin answered back with three runs off of Lions starter Bruce White. He gave way to Nikolas Laird with two outs remaining in the inning, and he forced a fly ball to left field to escape the inning. Laird kept the Tigers hitless from that inning on, as he really settled into a groove.
“I really didn’t even expect to pitch today,” said Laird. “I just went head on and tried to attack their hitters in the strike zone and paint the corners the best I could.”
Monday marked Laird's first pitching opportunity of the season, and he held the Tigers hitless until Herrin’s Nick Hunter slapped a double as a sign of desperation down six runs with two outs.
“You could see he was getting tired there towards the end of the game,” said Carterville coach Bobby Jackson. “I just told him to finish the game and that he’d be off the rest of the week, but I think he threw a really good game and I wanted him to have that taste of being on the mound to record that final out.”
Hunter ended up being the third and final out of the game after trying to stretch his double into a triple.
Laird finished the night pitching five and a third innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five Tigers.
The right-hander began the game hitting in place of White as the designated hitter in the No. 2 spot. In his first at-bat, Laird hit a drive that cleared the head of center fielder Jake Gibson, who slipped on the play, allowing Laird to reach third base with a triple.
“I need to keep working on hitting outside pitches better but I think my hitting game is moving right along,” said Laird.
Laird finished 2 for 3 at the plate matching leadoff hitter Bryce Anderson, with two runs scored apiece.
Luke Anderson went 3 for 4 for the Lions and Chandler Roberts finished 2 for 3 out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup.
“Chandler Roberts has been hitting all year for us,” said Jackson. “We’ve got ourselves a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of our lineup and he can run a little bit. He can put the ball in play and even though he’s not a power hitter, he’s going to put some balls in the gaps and hit some line drives for us. Luke Anderson is in his third year starting for us and we kind of expect big things from him.”
The Lions racked up 11 hits, with four of them coming in a big three-run fourth inning.
After a leadoff single by Roberts, Anderson laid down a perfectly placed bunt which led to a throwing error at first base, allowing Roberts to advance to third on the play. Laird then came up to the plate and delivered an RBI single to score Roberts. Anderson and Laird both came around in to score to give Carterville the 6-3 lead they needed to go home with a victory.
“We start off the year 3-1 and could easily be 4-0 but it’s still early in the season,” said Jackson. “We’re still learning what we got pitching wise and that’s what this is about before conference season gets here and then postseason. Nik Laird is a perfect example of that, we’re learning stuff about our team and what they can do and learning that it’s a lot different between practice and a game.”
Hunter McRoy finished 1 of 3 at the plate for Herrin with an RBI and a run scored.
After losing both games against Du Quoin on Saturday in a double-header, Herrin (0-3) will play their next game against Shawnee on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Carterville (3-1) will face off against Marion on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.