The Harlan County Black Bears took control of the race for this year’s top seed by completing a home-and-home sweep over Middlesboro with Wednesday’s 6-1 victory.
“I don’t know if I’d use the term driver’s seat, but it put us up there in the front for right now. If we can take care of Bell County and Harlan then we’ll be in the driver’s seat. It was a good win,” Harlan County coach John Lewis said.
Senior righthander Tyler Cornett pitched a four-hitter with seven strikeouts and four walks to earn the victory.
”Tyler did a great job. His change-up worked really well and he located it,” Lewis added. “If he didn’t get a strikeout he got a ground ball and that’s what you want from your pitcher. Middlesboro is always fundamentally sound. They’ve got some excellent power hitters. Tyler just kind of had their number today.”
”(Cornett) came right at us throwing strikes,” Middlesboro coach John Smith said. “He threw a heck of a game, but he wasn’t overpowering. We didn’t chase any breaking balls or off-speed pitches in the dirt, but we took too many good pitches.”
Junior righthander Tyler Yoakum suffered the loss as he gave up six runs on nine hits in six innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
Scotty Bailey started the Harlan County offense by walking to open the game, then stole second before scoring on Leisge’s single.
Middlesboro answered with a run in the bottom of the inning as Jake Brock singled, stole second and came home on Cole Frazier’s hit. But the Jackets weren’t able to score again.
“We went up there on Monday and had a 3-2, eight inning game with them. Today we came out flat and it didn’t look like we were ready to play. Tyler Yoakum pitched well enough to win but our defense didn’t do him any favors at all,” Smith added.
“It was a pitiful game all the way around. You’d think playing against your big district rival that wouldn’t happen. We didn’t come out ready to play for some reason and I don’t understand why. Harlan County was ready and they came in here and took care of business like they’re supposed to do and we didn’t.”
The left side of the HCHS infield, shortstop Bailey and third baseman Anthony Jenkins, each had two hits to lead the Harlan County offense. Sawyer Fields, Connor Leisge, Tyler Cornett, Zach Doss, Dylan Cornett and Chance Brown each added one hit against Yoakum.
”We hit the ball at important times,” Lewis said. “We ran the bases well and we bunted. It looked good.”
Jenkins was safe on an error to open the second inning, them moved to second on Doss’ sacrifice before scoring on Brown’s double.
Bailey led off the third inning with a triple and scored on an error. Field hit a fielder’s choice grounder to short and Tyler McCullough’s throw home beat Bailey, but cather Tyler Prater couldn’t hang on to the ball. Cornett singled with two outs, then courtesy runner Cole Wilson used his speed to steal second and move to third on a passed ball before scoring on Jenkins’ line drive hit to left field.
Fields led off the fifth inning with a single, moved to third when Leisge was safe on an error on a ball hit back to Yoakum on scored on Cornett’s sacrifice bunt. Leisge advanced to third when Jenkins singled and scored on a single by Doss. Jenkins was cut down at the plate on a grounder hit to shortstop by Nick Jarvis, then ejected when he collided with Middlesboro catcher Tyler Prater on a play at the plate.
Brock, Frazier, John Millett and Brandon Hale had singles for Middlesboro (8-7, 0-2 in district play). The Jackets host Clay County on Friday
Harlan County (8-5, 2-0)) returns to action Saturday with a pair of games at Lincoln County.
|Tyler Cornett and Nick Jarvis; Tyler Yoakum, Hunter Collett (7) and Tyler Prater. W — Cornett. L — Yoakum.|