The McLean County High School baseball team ended their 2021 regular season strong. After a 6-0 loss at Todd County on May 24, the Cougars hosted Russellville the following night with a shutout win 8-0. The final game was a hard-fought battle against Hancock County on the home dirt here in Calhoun on May 27 with McLean falling just shy 11-10.

Grant Lovell took the loss against Todd County. The right-hander lasted six innings, allowing eight hits and six runs while striking out six and walking three.

Taylor Trogden went 2-for-3 at the plate including a double to lead the Cougars. McLean County was sure-handed and didn’t commit a single error. Kamden Level served the entire game behind the plate and made the most plays with eight. Level allowed no passed balls with six putouts, two assists and zero errors.

Two Cougar pitchers combined to throw the shutout against Russellville at home last Tuesday. McLean County got things going in the first inning with two runs. The Cougar defense was standing strong and made quick work of the Panthers in the top of the third. A batter grounded into a fielder’s choice that was scooped up by third baseman Will Logsdon and thrown to Ayden Rice at second for the first out. The very next batter sent a pop fly to Taylor Trogden in left field. Trogden made the catch for the out and then hummed it to HB Whitaker at first base. Whitaker immediately gave it to Rice at second for the double play.

McLean County helped secure the victory with six more runs in the third inning. The offensive firepower was led with a triple by Kamden Level, a double by Will Logsdon and other RBIs from Taylor Trogden and Cruz Lee.

Mason Lovell led the Cougars to victory on the hill. Lovell allowed one hit and zero runs over six innings, striking out four and walking one. Harrison Sallee threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen, allowing no hits while striking out two and walking none.

Kamden Level went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and a triple to lead McLean County. The Cougars had 16 quality-at-bats and ran wild on the base paths with seven stolen bases. HB Whitaker had the most with three. Whitaker also had the most chances in the field with eleven. The first baseman had nine putouts, two assists and zero errors.

Head Coach Heath Hicks shared that this was a big win for the team. “Getting to 10 wins on the season is a good milestone to reach for our young squad. Mason pitched an excellent game in his first varsity start and Harrison slammed the door there at the end.”

McLean County had a slow start to their final regular season game at home against Hancock County last Thursday and was down 5-0 by the bottom of the second. The Cougars plated three runs before the Hornets scored four more in the fourth to pull away again. Will Logsdon shut them down with a throw from the mound to pick off a runner at first for the third out.

Hancock County got going again in the fifth with several doubles, but the Cougars held them to only two runs. Tyler Larkin scooped up a line drive at center field and hummed it home to get the first out. The next batter knocked it to left fielder Taylor Trogden who made the catch and then delivered the ball to Mason Lovell at second for a double play.

McLean County made a big comeback in the bottom of the fifth with five runs to claw their way back in the game. HB Whitaker singled to score one before Kamden Level served up a big double that plated three runs. Trogden followed with another double and then found his way home on a single by Grant Lovell.

The Cougar defense buckled down again and held the Hornets off the plate in the sixth. Hancock County had runners on second and third with no outs when Lovell made a great snag of a fly ball in right field, took a hop and slung a rocket all the way to Level at home plate, catching the runner attempting to score with another double play. First baseman Whitaker then judged a high foul ball and caught it near the Hornet’s dugout for the final out.

McLean County scored two more runs to narrow the gap to a single run in the sixth before Hancock County stepped up to the plate in the final inning. The Cougar defense stopped them quickly with three up and three down. Lovell caught another fly in right field, Cruz Lee struck out the next batter and third baseman Rice made a scoop and throw to Whitaker at first for the final out, but McLean failed to score in the bottom and the game ended with an 11-10 win for Hancock.

Ayden Rice took the loss for the Cougars. The righty surrendered five runs on three hits over one and two-thirds innings, striking out two and walking two.

McLean County mustered nine hits in the game. Kamden Level and Cruz Lee both had multiple hits. Level brought quality to each at bat, going 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Cougars with a double, four RBIs and a run scored.

McLean County tore up the base paths with six stolen bases. HB Whitaker led the way again with two.

Hicks reflected on the near comeback, “Despite the loss, I thought we showed a lot in this game to fight back from an eight-run deficit and give ourselves a chance at the end. That’s the type of grit that you have to have to be successful in this game. We fought until the final out.”

Hicks also commented on what a huge day it was for Kamden Level at the plate. “He really sparked our rally with his three-run double. And while our pitchers were not as sharp as we would have liked, they battled throughout and made some good pitches late to keep us in it.”

The Cougars participated in the 10th District Tournament at Ohio County, facing Muhlenberg County earlier this week on Monday.

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