Middlesboro’s 11-year-old All-Stars carried some momentum into Thursday’s elimination game against Knox County, but Jevonte Turner and the Knox All-Stars were too much for them to handle.
Turner drove in four runs with a pair of homers and struck out ten over 5-1/3 scoreless innings to lead KC to an 8-0 win and a spot in Sunday’s District 4 championship game against Corbin.
Middlesboro was a bit shaky on defense to start the game. Hannah McCullough retired Turner and then stuck out Jordan Collins, but Collins made it to first on a passed ball and Isaac Mills also reached on an error. Braxton Smith singled down the left field line to bring Collins home and Mills later scored on a wild pitch.
The defense picked up from there. Braden Hembree sent a fly ball to left but Thomas Justice came in to make the catch and quickly got the ball in catcher T.J. Patterson. Patterson was able to throw back to third baseman Chandler Mink in time to retire Smith, who had tagged up on the play, and end the inning.
With two out in the top of the second inning, Jared Hurst was hit by a pitch and Logan McDaniel walked before Turner belted a three-run homer to left-center to push the lead to 5-0.
Middlesboro threatened in the bottom of the second as Patterson and Hunter Hoskins both walked to start the inning. Eric Helton hit a high drive to right, but McDaniel was able to haul it in. Stephen Justice then sent a drive down the left field line where Hurst made a nice running catch to keep Middlesboro off the board. Turner got a grounder to end the inning.
Knox added a run in the third as Smith reached on an error and then scored with two outs when Lorenzo Gray’s fly ball to right was dropped.
Middlesboro threatened again in their half of the fourth. Patterson singled with one out and Hoskins walked. But Turner struck out the side in the inning and both runners were left on.
Hembree singled leading off the Knox fifth and sacrifice bunts by Devin Arthur and Bryce Imel moved him to third. Hurst brought Hembree in with a base hit for a 7-0 lead.
Turner added his second home run of the game leading off the sixth.
Middlesboro had their best scoring chance in the bottom of the sixth. McCullough singled with one out and Patterson walked. Imel relieved Turner and walked Hoskins to load the bases. But he came back to get a strikeout and then a grounder to short to end the game.
Dillon Collins pitched well in relief for Middlesboro, allowing just two earned runs on four hits over four innings. He struck out four and walked one. McCullough took the loss after giving up five runs, three earned, on two hits with two strikeouts in her two innings.
Knox County will play Corbin at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Corbin clinches the District 4 title with a win, if Knox wins the teams will play again on Monday at 7 p.m.