ST. MARYS -Courtesy runners for the pitcher reaching base safely have it easy when Jarrod Lough is the one throwing balls and strikes.
In addition to throwing a two-hitter and striking out 11 over five innings of work in last Saturday's 18-0 win at Roane County, the junior from St. Marys hit for the home run cycle and drove in 10 runs.
Of his five plate appearances, only once did courtesy runner Wesley Parsons have to make an appearance on base.
"Before I went up to bat on my first homer, Wesley told me to hit a home run so that way he wouldn't have to run for me," Lough said.
At the plate, Lough's afternoon began with a solo homer, continued with a three-run blast in his third plate appearance and was followed by a two-run homer. In his final at bat, Lough completed his 4-for-4 performance with a grand slam.
"All I could think of after that grand slam was 'Wow!'" Lough said. "When I crossed home plate, my teammates beat the living daylights out of me. It was like my freshman year when I hit a homer against Williamstown in sectionals which pretty much closed out the game.
"When I came out of the home plate huddle, my whole shirt was unbuttoned."
The only at bat which required a courtesy runner for Lough against Roane occurred when he drew a base on balls in his second plate appearance.
"On that last at bat in the sixth inning, I remember taking the first pitch - it was a fastball down low and outside," Lough said. "I was thinking maybe the next pitch I would go the other way, but it was a high fastball and I took it over the left field fence. I was a little nervous at first because it looked to be tailing foul."
With inclement weather wreaking havoc for this week's schedule, Lough's batting average is sitting at a perfect 1.000 (7-for-7) in two games. In last Friday's season-opener against Williamstown, he was 3-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs.
"Jarrod has always hit the ball really well," St. Marys coach Ed Wilson said. "I think what helped him was playing legion ball instead of colt league. We have a weight conditioning class during the winter and Jarrod really works at it."
Lough already has surpassed his home run total of four recorded during last summer's Post 79 legion season. He batted .380 despite batting against college prospects.
"Their stuff was mid-80's on average and that helped a lot - I got to see better pitchers with better control than the stuff you see in high school," Lough said.
Lough is a borderline baseball junkie. He began playing at the age of 3 and remembers hitting a combined 56 homers with current teammate Matt Houser when the two individuals were 13 years old and playing on the same little league ballclub.
His parents, Brad and Liza Lough, have been along for the ride along with his grandparents, Russell and Judy Lough. His fanbase also includes a friend of the family, Rhonda, and his sister, Taylor McFarland.
"They've all been a great influence - if I am going through a slump they help me through it," Jarrod Lough said.
His grandfather, however, wasn't too happy when he couldn't keep one of the home run balls hit by his grandson against Roane County. At the rate Jarrod Lough is going, there could be plenty of opportunities.
"I just need to keep working on the swing," Lough said. "I can't wait to get outside, but this weather is driving me insane. I don't like to practice in the gym, but as long as there is something to do with the bat, ball and glove then I'm fine because I love to play."
Last season for St. Marys, Lough was the team's regular third baseman. The season, however, ended on a sour note as the Blue Devils lost both sectional games.
"That was pretty frustrating and caused the team to have a chip on their shoulder," Lough said. "We had a great team last year and to do what we did was pretty frustrating."