Eighth-grader Tyler McCullough pitched a two-hitter, junior Cole Frazier hit a three-run homer and the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets celebrated Senior Night with an 11-1 win over Barbourville on Monday.
Following the game the Jackets honored seniors Brandyn Ball, Hunter Collett, Tyler Prater and Lucas Crawford. The players were introduced on the field along with their families and presented photo posters.
“It’s a good group of kids. I was fortunate enough to be an assistant coach for their freshman and sophomore years and the head coach for their junior and senior years. They’re all hard-working kids that will do anything you ask them to do. They’re always on time and they play the game the right way ,” Smith said. “They’ll all be successful in life. A couple of them are going on to play ball in college (Prater for football and Crawford for baseball at UPike), all four of them are going on to college and that’s what we aim for. I think they’ll all do well.”
Frazier finished with two hits in the game as did Tyler Yoakum, Brandon Hale and seniors Ball and Collett. Matther Mike also singled as part of Middlesboro’s 11-hit attack.
McCullough walked one and hit a batter in the first inning, but worked his way out of that jam and settled in nicely. He struck out ten over his five innings while giving up one run on two hits, one walk and two hit batters.
“We had started him earlier in the season against Barbourville and I don’t think he got out of the second inning. I’m sure he was nervous in his first varsity appearance,” Jacket coach John Smith said. “I talked to him last night and told him he was going today, I told him he’s not and eighth-grader anymore after 30 varsity games and that he would do fine. And he did, he did a great job getting ahead of their hitters and had command of all three of his pitches. We’re proud of him and expecting big things out of him in the future.”
The Jackets took the lead in the bottom of the first with a two-out rally. Yoakum, Frazier and Hale delivered consecutive singles to make it 1-0. Yoakum reached base and came around to score in all four of his plate appearances.
Barbourville tied the game in the top of the third. Dylan Worley singled with one out, Tate Carter reached on an error and Tanner Moore delivered an RBI double.
Middlesboro answered in their half of the inning as they got to Carter for four runs. Brock drew a lead off walk and advanced all the way to third as Ball reached on a bunt down the first base line. Ball stole second and Brock was able to slide in under the tag at the plate on Yoakum’s fielder’s choice back to the mound. Carter struck Frazier out looking, but Hale followed with an RBI single and Yoakum scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1. Matthew Mike blooped an RBI single into shallow center to bring Hale in for a 5-1 lead.
Frazier got his revenge in the fourth inning. With one out, Ball singled and Yoakum walked and the junior DH deposited a three-run shot over the fence just left of straight away center field to make it 8-1.
“He had struck out looking in the at bat before and he didn’t sit over in the dugout and pout about it. He went out, got a pitch he like and drove it over the fence,” Smith said. “That’s what we try to tell them all to do: Forget about their last at bat or an error they made, just get focused and ready to go on the next pitch.”
The Jackets brought an early end to the game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Collett opened the inning with double into the right-center gap. With one out, Brock lined a shot to center that bounced out of the outfielder’s glove for a two-base error as Collett scored. With two out, Yoakum delivered an RBI single. He went to second on a passed ball and scored the walk-off run from there as Frazier’s hard grounder to short got through for an error.
The Jackets went 2-1 in their three games at Whitley County over the weekend. They beat Jackson County 14-4 in six innings and got a no-hitter from Brandyn Ball in Friday’s 7-0 win over McCreary Central. They dropped a 10-5 decision to Whitley early Saturday morning.
“Brandyn Ball pitched that first game against McCreary Central and threw a no-hitter. He was one hitter away from a perfect game, he walked one guy and picked him off two pitches later,” Smith said. “He did a heck of a job. We dropped him down this fall to where he’s almost throwing submarine and he’s won some big games for us.
“Overall, the team played great this weekend. We had a little tiredness Saturday after playing those two games late Friday night and had to get up and drive back there at 9 a.m. Saturday. We sort of struggled that morning, gave up a few runs, but we battled back and made it respectable. For a while it looked like we were going to get run-ruled. But they’re coming around and playing good, solid baseball right now.”
Middlesboro (21-13) hosts Williamsburg on Thursday and will close out the regular season at Clay County on Friday. Barbourville (8-8) hosts Bell County today.
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|Tate Carter and Collin Grubb; Tyler McCullough and Tyler Prater. W — McCullough. L — Carter. HR — M:Cole Frazier.|