Diuguid shines in Hoppers' season-opening victory

Bryan Edwards | Kentucky New Era

Hoptown Hoppers pitcher Lane Diuguid throws during the season opening game against the Madisonville Miners on Friday night.

Former Christian County Colonel Lane Diuguid didn't let a higher level get the best of him on Friday night.

The future Western Kentucky Hilltopper threw five innings of one-hit baseball in relief as he helped the Hoptown Hoppers win their season-opening contest 6-2 over the Madisonville Miners at Tiger Field.

Diuguid allowed just one hit and struck out five in his outing as he picked up the win in his Hopper debut.

Hoptown manager Grayson Crawford had a lot of good things to say about his reliever.

"Lane was outstanding," he said. "He was ready to pitch. I thought the moment wasn't too big and that's kind of what Lane's about. He's a slow paced guy, he's a slow heartbeat guy and the moment wasn't too big for him. I can't say enough about how good he was tonight."

Diuguid said he didn't feel the pressure of playing against higher competition, and it showed on the diamond.

"I noticed early on that my off-speed was working pretty well," he said. "I knew I was going to be able to utilize that and keep them off balance.

"I wasn't nervous, but I didn't know what to expect," Diuguid said. "I'll say it does build up my momentum (and) I'm ready for my next appearance."

The Hoppers got down 2-0 early, but began to claw back after the first home run of the season from catcher Hunter Evans in the bottom of the second inning. They would tie it up moments later after a single from Micah Genter scored Drew McGowan.

Diuguid entered the game in the third and kept the Miners scoreless through six. In the bottom of the inning, the Hoppers took advantage of Diuguid's lights-out performance.

Singles from Greg Mehlhaff and Michael Conn set up an RBI double from Evans to give Hoptown the lead.

The next batter was McGowan, who brought two home with a single to center field to give his team a three-run cushion.

Hoptown scored one more run on an error to widen the gap to four runs.

Diuguid pitched through the eighth inning, still not allowing the Miners to mount any sort of comeback. Hunter Crosby came in and shut the door, getting the save.

Crawford said he was happy with how his team opened the 2019 season.

"I thought we played well," Crawford said. "I felt like early in the game, you could tell there was a lot of anxiety from a lot of our guys. We have a lot of young guys. I felt like the home run from Hunter made us all take a deep breath and realize we were just playing baseball again. After that, I felt like we got things rolling."

The Hoppers brought in a young group, consisting mainly of freshman and sophomores, as well as some incoming freshman as well.

Crawford, in his first year back at the help in Hoptown, said he's excited to see how this group comes together over the summer.

"I think we've got a good group -- we've got a really young group," Crawford said. "We're going to have some ups and downs. Unfortunately, we're not going to be great every night because we're young. I think each night will be a big growing night for us. The thing with summer ball is it's 40 games. That's a long summer and some of these guys haven't played.

"I expect us to get better each week. We're going to go week by week. I feel like we have a lot of guys from a lot of different places so hopefully, that chemistry can happen ... I felt like we saw a little of that come together tonight."

The Hoppers will be back in action at 7 p.m. today against the Fulton Railroaders on the road.

Hoptown 6, Madisonville 2

MAD 110 000 000 2 5 2

HOP 020 004 00X 6 9 3

WP: Diuguid (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 6 K)

LP: Toth (1 IP, 4 H, 4 R)

S: Crosby (1)

MAD: Council (2-5, R), King (1-4, RBI), Teel, (1-3, R), Diaz (1-3)

HOP: McCargar (1-4), Mehlhaff (1-3, R), Conn (1-3, R), Jenkins (1-1), Evans (2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI), McGowan (1-4, 2 R, 2 RBI), Genter (2-3, RBI)

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