13-run 5th carries Jackets over Tigers

Jay Compton jcompton@civitasmedia.com

March 20, 2014

BARBOURVILLE — Middlesboro exploded for 13 runs in the top of the fifth inning to break open Thursday’s All “A” semifinal game and the Jackets went on to an 18-1 win over Barbourville.

“We had a little pow-wow at the end of the fourth inning and got on our guys about being disciplined and focused at the plate,” Yellow Jacket coach John Smith said. “You could tell they were more focused in the fifth inning and we put those 13 runs up. We were swinging at better pitches and putting the ball up the middle where we teach them to go with it.”

Jake Brock led Middlesboro’s 14-hit attack as the junior center fielder reached base in all five of his plate appearances. Brock finished 3-for-3 with two walks, two doubles, five RBI and three runs scored.

Junior Brandon Hale drove in four runs with a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly while Tyler Yoakum and Lucas Crawford both finished with two hits and two RBI. Crawford scored three times in the game. John Millett added two bunt singles, Hunter Collett had a two-run single and Matthew Mike and Brandyn Ball both had one hit and three runs scored. Scotty Brooks walked, reached on an error, added a sacrifice bunt and scored two runs.

Brandyn Ball struck out five over his four innings while allowing one run on three hits and a walk. Hale struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“Again Brandyn Ball threw great for us and got us through four innings and Hale came in and shut the door in the fifth,” Smith said. “As a coaching staff we’ve really been pleased with our pitching staff all year. They’ve been keeping us in every game.”

Tanner Moore didn’t pitch badly in the loss for the Tigers. The senior held the Jackets to five runs, three earned, on three hits over his four innings while striking out seven, walking one and hitting one.

“Moore kept them in the game for four innings and did a good job keeping some of our guys off balance,” Smith said.

Brock used his speed to get Middlesboro on the board early. He led off the game with a walk and stole second. One out later he scored all the way from second on Yoakum’s sacrifice fly to deep right to make it 1-0.

Crawford had an RBI single and Brock a two-run double in the second inning and Hale added an RBI ground out to stretch the lead to 5-0.

Ball was perfect through two frames, but Barbourville got on the board in the bottom of the third. John Rodriguez led off the inning with a base hit and stole second. One out later, Charles Pickard walked and Dylan Worley followed with an RBI single. But that was all the Tigers would get.

Colling Grubb reached on a bunt single in the fourth, but was caught stealing.

After leaving two runners on in each of the third and fourth innings, the Jackets put the game away with that huge fifth inning. Seven of the first Middlesboro batters had hits with Crawford delivering an RBI single, Brock a two-run double, and Hale and Collett both ripping a two-run singles as the lead quickly grew to 12-1. The Jackets batted around again before the inning was finished.

Hale, a junior first baseman and pitcher, looks to be one of the most improved players on the team early in the year.

“Hale has gotten a little taller and playing basketball has him in better shape. He came straight from basketball and hasn’t missed a lick,” Smith added. “He’s been hitting the ball all over the place, playing good defense and throwing well for us.”

Sophomore Van Ball made his first varsity start at catcher in the game and caught his brother for the first time. Regular catcher Cole Frazier was out with a stomach bug and Tyler Prater is still being held out due to illness.

“Van stepped in and did a great job. There were maybe two passed balls through five innings and he was catching two pitchers he’s never caught before. He even threw out a base stealer at second,” Smith said.

Middlesboro (4-1) will visit the winner of Thursday’s Jackson County-Williamsburg game for Friday’s 13th Region All “A” championship.

Barbourville (2-1) plays at Bell County on Friday.

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Middlesboro 140 0(13) 18 14 3
Barbourville 001 1 0 1 3 5
Brandyn Ball, Brandon Hale (5) and Van Ball; Tanner Moore, Tate Carter (5), Jacob Rose (5) and Jaxon McWilliams. W — BBall. L — Moore.