HARLAN — A 15-0 win Monday over Barbourville in the opening round of the 13th Region Tournament at Harlan County High School was a nice break for the Corbin Redhounds, who enjoyed the 16-hit offensive explosion but are accustomed to a more traditional style of baseball.
In a 1-0 win Tuesday over Clay County, the Redhounds had to rely on the basics to earn a spot in Thursday’s 13th Region Tournament championship game opposite South Laurel.
“It’s all about pitching and defense, and that’s what we do best,” Corbin coach Rob Ledington said. “Taylor Combs pitched an outstanding game today, and we played great defense. That’s our mainstay. That’s our staple. We live by pitching and defense. We’d like score more runs, but we’ll take a win. Win, survive and advance, that’s how we look at it.”
Combs, a senior right-hander, pitched a four-hitter, counting on his defense to make the plays in a game where he recorded only one strikeout and one walk.
The Hounds’ defense was solid the entire way, especially in the third inning when Clay had its best shot at scoring after Adam Carnahan led off with a walk and Nathaniel Huff singled. Combs recorded the first out when he caught a bunt attempt popped up by John Sizemore. Dylan Garrison followed with a fly ball that would have brought Carnahan home if the bunt had been successful. With runners on first and third, Nate Sizemore hit a sharp grounder up the middle that freshman shortstop Corey Ledington fielded on a slide and tossed the ball to second baseman Andrew Jones just ahead of Huff to save a run and retire the side.
“You know, that was my son who made that play,” Ledington said. “I don’t talk about him, or brag on him, but I’m very proud of him. That was a tremendous play. If they go up on us there, you never know what might happen. I’m very happy for our bunch.”
“I thought we hit the ball well, but somebody was standing there every time we hit it,” Clay County coach Jason Smith said. “We missed an opportunity early when we didn’t get a bunt down. Corbin played great. My hat is off to them.”
Jones had three of the Hounds’ seven hits with a double and two singles in four at bats from the leadoff spot.
“He’s a great kid, one of the best human beings I’ve coached in my life,” Ledington said. “He’s a great Christian and is a leader for our team, not with his mouth but with his presence and actions.”
Corbin broke up a scoreless game in the fifth inning. Conner Hicks led off with a single but was cut down at second on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Austin O’Neill, who moved to third on a double by Jones and scored on Kevin Goins’ hit. Goins had two hits for the Redhounds while Peyton Buford, Taylor Combs and Hicks added one each.
Dustin Gross, Tanner Smith, Carnahan and Huff had singles for the 21-18 Tigers.
Senior righthander Tyler Allen was the hard-luck loser as he scattered seven hits while striking out two and walking none.
“Tyler has been great all year. He stepped up like a senior should and gave us an opportunity to win,” Smith said. “I just hate that we couldn’t score runs for him.”
In Tuesday’s late game, the South Laurel Cardinals took advantage of five errors and advanced to the finals with a 6-2 win over crosstown rival North Laurel.
Sophomore right-hander Braden Miller tossed a four-hitter with nine strikeouts and three walks to earn the win.
Joe Gaines had a triple and single to lead the South Laurel (26-8) offense. Brennan Miller added two singles.
Weston Griebel had two singles to lead North Laurel (25-12).
South Laurel took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Gaines led off with a walk and came all the way around to score when Trey Martin’s bunt was thrown away by North Laurel third baseman Jake McWhorter. Daniel Neal drove in a run with an infield single. Taylor Morris’ ground out brought home the third run.
North Laurel picked up two runs in the third inning on two errant throws that first baseman Zach Allen was unable to scoop. Ethan Maxey scored the first run after walking with two outs, and Griebel followed with a single. The Cardinals worked out of the jam thanks to a strong throw home from Martin at shortstop as Zach Hurley tried to score on a double steal attempt.
South added a run in the third inning on Gaines’ two-out RBI triple.
North threatened in the fifth as Maxey and Griebel had consecutive two-out singles and Hurley at the plate when Maxey was caught at third on a steal attempt.
The Cardinals tacked two insurance runs in the sixth inning as Taylor Morris singled with two outs, moved to third on an errant throw and scored on Brennan Miller’s single. Gaines followed with a single, then took off for second. Miller scored when the throw from Maxey sailed into center field when no one covered the base.
The championship game is set for Thursday at 7 p.m.
|T. Combs and O’Neill; Allen and Gross. W — Combs. L — Allen.|
Braden Miller and Morris; Mallory and Maxey. W — Miller. L — Mallory.