Cumberland Gap broke open a tight game with a five-run outburst in the top of the fifth inning and went on to an 11-4 win at Pineville on Wednesday.
“Offensively, we’ve been pretty good this year and that’s the area I was worried about a little bit,” Panther coach Nick Huckaby said. “Our defense is not very good right now and that’s what I thought would be our strong point. But that’s where we’re at right now and we’re going to work on it. They’re good kids and they’re giving good effort, we’ve just got to get better.”
Panther senior Brandon Bailey allowed four runs, one earned, on three hits over the first three innings to get the win. He struck out five and walked one. Senior Gavin Burns gave up just two hits and hit a batter while striking out seven over the final four frames for a save.
Bailey also had two doubles and a single to drive in three runs. Hunter Bayless also doubled twice and single and finished with four RBI and two runs scored. Jonathan Lorens added two doubles, Devon Helton two singles and Jordan Russell a base hit. Joe Gidens walked twice, was hit by a pitch, singled and scored four runs.
The Mountain Lions were led by senor Conner Ford who homered and singled and scored two runs. Will Adams, Jordan Slusher and Caleb Dunn also had hits for Pineville.
Slusher didn’t pitch poorly in the loss. Only five of the eleven runs he allowed were earned as he went the distance while giving up twelve hits. He struck out six, walked five and hit two batters.
“I think overall we played well. We fielded the ball pretty well but I’ll tell you what, they hit the ball hard. I give them credit, they’re a good baseball team,” Pineville coach Scott Jeffrey said. “Jordan pitched well and we settled in but one big inning really killed us. They scored four runs with two outs after an error.”
Cumberland Gap jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-run double by Bailey and an RBI double by Lorens.
Pineville answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Slusher reached on a fielder’s choice as Adams was thrown out going for third for the second out. Ford then singled and both he and Slusher scored as Tyler Evans reached on an error.
A two-run double off the bat of Bayless pushed the Panther lead to 5-2 in the second inning.
“Hunter and Jonny Lorens are both sophomores and they’re swinging pretty good bats right now. They get good extension and they get through the ball well,” Huckaby said. “We’ve up and down a little bit, but those two have kind of been constants for us. Brandon Bailey is swinging it well too and Gavin is battling for us on the field and on the mound. Those four guys are kind of our core.”
The Lions got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame as Matt Hubbard reached on an error, stole second and then scored on an RBI single by Adams. Ford belted a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the third to bring Pineville within 5-4.
“That was a big shot. Conner hits in the four hole for a reason and he’s one of our best athletes,” Jeffrey added. “Maybe that will give us a little confidence going into the rest of the season.”
Pineville two runners on later in the third inning, but Bailey got a strike out to end the inning. The score remained 5-4 until the top of the fifth.
Lorens opened the inning with a double to deep right and Helton followed with an RBI single. He stole second and went to third on a ground out by Chase Smith. With two out, Burns reached on an error as Smith scored to make it 7-4 and the flood gates opened. Gidens, Bayless and Bailey all had RBI singles as the lead grew to 10-4.
Burns shut the Lions down from there and Bayless doubled home Gidens in the seventh to set the final at 11-4.
“He’s a basketball kid so he’s just now getting in his groove throwing strikes consistently,” Huckaby said. “He doesn’t have the greatest stuff but he goes out there and battles and does what he needs to do to win.”
Cumberland Gap (5-5) will play at Middlesboro on Saturday while Pineville (1-2) was scheduled to visit Hancock County, Tenn., on Thursday for a double-header. The Lions will host Buckhorn for a twin-bill Saturday afternoon.
— — —
|Brandon Bailey, Gavin Burns (4) and Jonathan Lorens, Bailey (4); Jordan Slusher and Conner Ford. W — Bailey. L — Slusher. Sv — Burns. HR — P:Ford. |