Consistency continues to be hard to find for the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets. Coming off a 5-4, eight-inning win over Clay County on Friday, MHS was held to just two hits as they lost to the Tigers 7-0 on Wednesday.
“We’ve been trying to find that answer all year. We put one or two good games together and then come out the next night and look like a T-ball team out here,” said Jacket coach John Smith. “I’ve been trying to tell these guys that we’ll have to put some sort of run together to go far in the tournament. We can’t play good one day and then take a day off.”
Wednesday, Clay County got a dominate effort out of pitcher Tyler Allen. He fired a complete game shutout and allowed just a pair of bunt singles to Jake Brock while striking out seven, walking two and hitting a batter.
The Tigers got all of the runs they would need in the top of the first inning. Jordan White singled to center leading off the game and Tanner Smith walked. Allen hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners and Austin Carnahan blooped an RBI single into shallow right. After MHS starter Brian Hale came back with a strikeout, Dylan Garrison singled back up the middle to bring in one run and another scored when the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
Down 3-0, the Jackets had their best scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second. Tyler Prater and Lucas Crawford both walked with one out and a sacrifice bunt by Hunter Collett put runners at second and third. But Allen stranded both runners by closing the inning with a strike out.
Smith blooped a single to right to start the Clay third inning and Nathan Huff walked with two out. Smith stole third and scored on a throwing error for a 4-0 lead.
Lucas Crawford relieved Hale to start the fourth inning, but was undone by a couple of defensive miscues. Trevor Sams reached on an error to start the inning and one out later Smith was hit by a pitch. Allen delivered an RBI single and Smith later stole home as part of a double-steal.
Sams singled in an insurance run in the fifth. Crawford held the Tigers scoreless from there, but the Jackets never could get their offense in gear. Brian Hale reached on an error in the third inning and Brandon Hale was hit by a pitch in the sixth for the only other Middlesboro base runners.
“(Allen) did exactly what we want our pitchers to do. He threw strikes, got ahead in the count and made us hit his pitches,” said Smith. “We didn’t swing the bats very well, pecked it around the infield and they made the plays.”
Friday, it was the Jackets taking advantage of some shoddy Clay County defense as they pulled out the 5-4 win in eight innings. The game was played at Knox Central as part of the Southeast Kentucky Invitational. Brock singled off Allen in the bottom of the eighth and went to second on a bunt by Tyler Yoakum. Brian Hale was hit by a pitch and John Millett reached on an error to load the bases and Brock scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
The Jackets jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the first two innings.
In the first Hale singled with two down and Millett brought him home with a double. Brandon Hale then reached on an error as Millett scored. In the second, Collett singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jesse Hoskins laid down a bunt single and Collett came around to score on a throwing error on the play.
Clay got an RBI single from Garrison in fourth and an RBI ground out from Tanner Smith in the fifth. Hale walked the first two batters in the sixth and Crawford took over on the mound. One run scored as Dylan Gross reached on an error in the outfield and Tanner Hoskins doubled in another urn to put the Tigers up 4-3.
Middlesboro answered in the bottom of the inning as Hoskins reached on an error and later scored as Brian Hale also reached on an error to tie the game.
Crawford gave up just two hits over the final three innings while striking out two to earn the win.
“Friday we went up there and got a great game on the mound from Brian and Lucas. We beat the ball all over the field and ran and put pressure on the defense. (Wednesday) we came out and just didn’t seem to be focused. We didn’t look like we cared and just pretty much laid down,” Smith said. “We took Monday and Tuesday off because we had that tournament scheduled, of course we had two games rained out on Saturday. It’s the same stuff that we work on everyday that ends up beating us in most of the games we’ve lost.”
Middlesboro (13-8) hosts Williamsburg today while Clay County (15-11) visits Williamsburg on Friday.