Back says no-no to Commodores, GRC on three-game win streak

Published 2:10 pm Monday, April 3, 2023

Last season, Keyonte Back received praise for his relief pitching in a close 10th Region Quarterfinal victory against Mason County.

On a windy Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after storm threats led Gov. Andy Beshear to declare a state of emergency, his starting pitching deserved praise.

In the first of two games for the Cards on Saturday, Back threw a seven-inning no-hitter as GRC (8-2) defeated Perry County Central (2-6) 7-0 in Winchester.

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“I’m really happy for Keyonte. Keyonte’s such a good kid,” said GRC Head Coach Chris Varney. “His pitching location was [excellent]. It’s tough in this wind.”

To set the tone early, Back struck out the first two Commodore batters he faced.

After walking the third, Back would also take care of the runner on first.

Throwing a pickoff attempt, Back caught the runner off base.

An attempt to take second base was eliminated when first baseman Caden Spicer delivered a throw to shortstop Brady Davis, who promptly tagged out the runner.

The only other Commodore to see time on the basepath came via a two-out hit by pitch in the third inning, after which Back got out the ensuing batter.

Hitters for Perry County Central had difficulty catching up to Beck’s pitches during the afternoon, as he logged ten total strikeouts.

“I just wanted to win. I just wanted everything to go our way,” Bacl said. “It was just fastballs and curveballs today.”

The Cards, facing Perry County Central’s Mason McAlarnis, were also kept off the scoreboard in the first two innings.

They delivered their first run on a sacrifice fly from third baseman Kamden McAlpin in the bottom of the third inning.

However, they broke open the game one inning later.

The Cards’ offense gave Back plenty of cushion as they delivered five runs in the fourth inning, with the last two coming on a bases-loaded sacrifice bunt by McAlpin.

With both the first- and second-base runner moving on the pitch as part of a squeeze play, Ben Fulks and Tielor Howie came around to score.

McAlpin led the Cards with three RBIs while making a stellar defensive play at third base that helped keep the no-hitter intact.

“He’s a really good player,” Varney said. “The more even-keeled that Kamden plays, the better player he is.”

Though admitting there were nerves, Back went out in the 7th inning and got the first two outs via his fielding on a groundout and pop-out.

A fly ball caught by right fielder Ben Fulks, who adjusted to the wind, represented the final out.

Afterward, Back was embraced by both teammates and coaches.

Fans of GRC stood and applauded the senior as well.

Hours later, the Cards took on 10th Region foe Campbell County.

In last year’s 10th Region Championship game, the Camels – en route to an Elite Eight finish – defeated GRC 5-3.

Campbell County, which features University of Kentucky commit Aydan Hamilton, also won the 10th Region Championship in 2021.

Thus, Coach Varney knew victory wouldn’t be easy to come by.

“They’ll be a region test for us,” he said.

In a pitcher’s duel that featured GRC starting pitcher Jordan Soliz throwing 6 ⅓ innings of one-run baseball while striking out six batters, the Cards entered the seventh inning with a 2-1 lead.

However, the Camels created trouble when they put runners on first and second base with one out.

The Cards then brought into the game Lochlan Hansel with hopes of getting the final two outs.

Not to be overwhelmed by the task, Hansel got the final two outs before the Camels could get a run across home plate as GRC completed the 2-1 victory.

Having defeated Morgan County on Thursday evening following a brief two-game losing streak against Montgomery County and Scott County, the Cards are now on a three-game winning streak.

The Cards stay home for a doubleheader against Cooper and Madisonville-North Hopkins on Monday at 5:00 and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

Afterward, with Clark County Public Schools on spring break this week, they’ will head out of state to play teams from Indiana and Tennessee between April 5 – 8.

The Cards then return to in-state action with a home matchup against Paris on Tuesday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m.