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Knights hold off Forest Bearcats for division win

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
March 24, 2004
COLLINSVILLE Jerry Boatner was determined to stick with relief pitcher Ricky Gardner, no matter what.
And Gardner threw enough of them in the seventh inning to help the No. 3-ranked Knights survive a scare from Forest with a 7-5 Division 5-3A win on Tuesday night.
West Lauderdale, now 17-1 overall and 6-0 in district play, led by two runs and seemed to be coasting in the seventh after Gardner struck out the first two batters of the inning. But an infielder's error and a two-out single suddenly breathed life into the Bearcats' hopes.
Boatner visited the pitcher's mound, and after a brief conversation, returned to the dugout with Gardner still on the mound.
Gardner forced a groundball out from the next batter.
The Knights struggled throughout the game to put together a string of hits and even trailed the 7-8 Bearcats twice in the early going.
A three-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth put West Lauderdale on top for good. Tyler Vick scored the first run of the inning on Austin Davis' infield single to put the Knights up 4-3. Davis scored later in the inning after Bo Davis drew a bases-loaded walk, and Drew Snider drove in a run on a fielder's choice.
The runs put West Lauderdale up 6-3 for its largest lead of the game.
Forest loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but came away with only one run. In the sixth, the Bobcats benefitted from a leadoff double, but scored just once in that inning as well.
West Lauderdale was led at the plate by Austin Davis, who went 3-for-3 from the plate. Davis' RBI triple in the bottom of the fifth drove in West Lauderdale's final run for a 7-5 lead.
Cory Hart picked up the win for the Knights, striking out eight and scattering six hits.