A combination of some pretty good offense and defense that was shaky at times led to a run-scoring explosion in Monday’s Bell County vs. Middlesboro baseball game.
In the end, the Jackets had a bit more firepower as Brandon Hale, Cole Frazier and John Millett all hit home runs and Tyler Yoakum drove in five on three hits in a wild 19-13 win over the Bobcats.
“We hit the ball real well and we have been the last three or four games. We’re finally getting into a groove with the middle of our order and the bottom of the lineup did some things to get on base and get us back around to the top,” MHS coach John Smith said. “We didn’t play great defense, but I thought Brandyn Ball came in and did a great job. He’s a ground ball pitcher and he got the grounders but the infielders just didn’t give him any help.”
Lucas Crawford and Jake Brock scored the tying and go-ahead runs as Frazier reached on an error in the bottom of the third inning as the Jackets took a 10-9 lead and never trailed again.
The Bobcats pulled to within one again in the top of the fifth inning when RBI doubles from Jared Slusher and Aaron Jenkins made it 12-11. But Yoakum hit a two-run double in the bottom of the frame and a two-run single in the sixth ahead of Millett’s two-run shot to right as Middlesboro pulled away.
The teams combined for 13 errors and 26 hits in scoring 32 runs in the game and neither coach was in a good mood after it was over.
“It was an ugly games both ways all the way around,” Bell coach Scott Chaney said. “They hit three home runs off us and two of them probably would have been outs at our ball park, so you never know.
“That was probably the worst umpiring I’ve seen this year (behind the plate), we had to put it right down the middle to get a strike. I’m not blaming the umpire but that really cost us a bunch of runs.”
Middlesboro started fast as Yoakum sat the Bobcats down in order in the top of the first. Then Brock and Frazier both walked to start the home first. Yoakum had and RBI single and Millett drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder before Hale made it 4-0 with his first varsity homer over the left field fence.
Bell County answered with six runs in the second inning. Chase Woolum and Hayden Gilbert both singled with one out and Zach Turner walked to load the bases. Evan Brock hit a grounder to second, but the throw to second was wide as two runs scored. Another run came home as Slusher reached on an error and Caleb Smith tied the game with an RBI single. With two out, Dylan Cox reached on an infield single and Jacob Rose belted a two-run single to deep left to put Bell up 6-4.
“Yoakum didn’t have a good outing again today. The last two outings he’s been up in the zone and it’s easy for other teams to hit it when you leave it belt high,” Smith added. “He didn’t have any help defensively in the infield. If you take those errors away then you’re probably looking at a 19-5 ballgame.”
Frazier hit a three-run homer to left-center, his first varsity home run, to put Middlesboro back on top 7-6.
Austin North tied it with an RBI double down the left field line and Slusher added an RBI single. He later came around to score as Jenkins reached on an error to put the Bobcats up 9-7.
Crawford tripled in a run in the bottom of the inning when to Bell outfielders fell down chasing after his hit into the gap. Brock was hit by a pitch and they both came around to score as Frazier reached on a throwing error.
Brandyn Ball, who earned the win in relief, retired Bell County in order in the top of the fourth. Jonathan Partin drove in a run with ground out and Crawford had an RBI single to push the MHS lead to 12-9 in the bottom of the inning.
Slusher and Jenkins doubled to produce one Bobcat run in the fifth and Cox singled to bring Jenkins in and make it a 12-11 game. The Jackets answered again as Yoakum doubled to bring in Brock and Frazier and later scored as Tyler Prater reached on an error for a 15-11 lead.
The Bobats loaded the bases in the sixth as Woolum singled, North was hit by a pitch and Brock reached on an error. Slusher grounded to third where Yoakum went to the bag for a force out and hit throw to first wasn’t in time to double up Slusher and Woolum scored.
Middlesboro put the game away in the bottom of the sixth. Ball was hit by a pitch and Brock singled to start the inning. With two out, Yoakum brought them both in with a base hit to center and Millett followed with a two-run homer to right-center for a 19-12 lead.
Cox walked to start the Bobcat seventh and later scored on an error to set the final at 19-13.
Slusher singled, doubled, reached on an error to drive in three runs and scored three times to lead the Bell offense. Woolum, Gilbert, Smith and Cox all had two hits with Woolum both scoring twice and Smith and Cox both driving in runs. Jenkins and North both had RBI doubles and Rose had that two-run single.
“I was real proud of Jared Slusher, I think he had three hits and hit it hard every time,” Chaney said. “The bottom of our lineup is carrying us right now. I feel confident in all of them one through nine, but the bottom is carrying us and I’m going to have to challenge the top to get their production up or we’ll have to make some changes.”
Crawford had three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored for the Jackets. Partin singled, scored a run and drove in one while Brock had two hits, walked, was hit by a pitch, stole three bases and scored four times.
Middlesboro (12-10) and Bell County (10-8) were to continue the series Tuesday on Log Mountain.
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|Zach Turner, Austin North (2), Caleb Smith (5) and Aaron Jenkins; Tyler Yoakum, Brandyn Ball (3) and Tyler Prater. W — Ball. L — North. HR — M: Brandon Hale, Cole Frazier, John Millett.|