HYDEN — With six freshmen in the starting lineup, the Leslie County Eagles and coach Russell Melton knew there would probably be more ups than downs during a 2014 season what was dedicated to rebuilding.
If the Eagles needed an example that patience with youth can pay off, the visiting Bell County Bobcats provided it Friday during a 14-3 win over the Eagles.
Bell starts eight juniors this season, most of whom have been with the Bobcats through a rebuilding project that began following a 20-win season in 2009 that included a regional runner-up finish. Bell reached bottom two years ago at 8-26, before improving to 13-16. The Bobcats are among the region’s most improved teams this season with a 10-5 mark after the win over Leslie County.
Leslie stayed close early until Bell used a six-run third inning to take control.
Cleanup hitter Jacob Rose, a junior third baseman, led Bell’s 16-hit attack with three singles. Junior first baseman Dylan Cox, sophomore shortstop Chase Woolum, junior center fielder Hayden Gilbert and junior second baseman Caleb Smith each added a double and single. Jared Slusher had two singles. Zach Turner, Aaron Jenkins and Jordan Wombles added one single each.
Turner earned the win on the mound as he pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings in relief with seven strikeouts and no walks. Ethan Mason started and allowed three runs on two hits in 1 1/3 innings. Scotty Fields pitched one shutout inning to close the game.
Dalton Spurlock and Dean Bray each had RBI singles in the second inning as the Eagles scored three times. Leadoff hitter Seth Melton drove in Spurlock with the third run with a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop. Dylan Thomas walked and Peyton Pugh was hit by a pitch to open the inning and both scored. Pugh had Leslie’s other hit with a single to open the fourth inning.
Both team were scheduled to return to action on Monday with Leslie County (1-9) hosting Wolfe County and Bell County (10-5) at Harlan County.
Mason, Turner (2), Fields and Jenkns; Melton, Muncy (4) and Crisp. W — Turner. L— Melton.