NEW TAZEWELL, Tenn. — The Bell County Bobcats couldn’t carry the momentum from Thursday night’s win over Pineville over to Friday. Bell dropped a 16-4 decision to the Bulldogs in five innings.
Pitching was the culprit as Bobcat hurlers combined for 12 walks and a hit batter in the loss.
“We hit the ball really well (Thursday). We hit it alright tonight. Hitting is sporadic, but we’re doing a good enough hitting to win ball games,” said Bel coach Ken Johnson. “We’re not throwing strikes and we’ve worked on it and worked on it. Outside of a couple guys, we just can’t find the strike zone.
“That was the biggest difference against Pineville. If they throw strikes, it’s a close ballgame, if we throw more strikes then maybe we don’t give up 13 runs.”
Claiborne’s Matt Pruette led off the bottom of the first with a triple and after a Tyler Smith walk, Dakota Massengill delivered a two-run double. The Bulldogs later got RBI singles from Bussell and Collins to push the lead to four.
Bell answered back with a run in the second inning as Aaron Jenkins drew a two-out walk and Logan Cox ripped an RBI double to left.
In the third the Bobcats took advantage of walks to Ricky Pletcher and Caleb Smith to start the inning. The runners moved up on a passed ball and Pletcher scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Evan Brock. Zach Turner followed with a deep fly ball to right, Smith tagged up and scored from third on the play to cut the lead to 4-3.
Claiborne took advantage of seven walks and a couple errors to score seven runs on three hits in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach. They added five more runs in the fourth.
The Bobcats got one run back in the top of the fifth as Smith doubled and Brock singled him home, but that was all they would get as the Bulldogs won 16-4.
Massengill was the winning pitcher for Claiborne while Smith took the loss for the Bobcats.
“It’s just about having that winning attitude. Just wanting to go out there and play hard and get after it. I feel like right now if we get out there and one thing goes wrong, everybody’s just like: Here we go again,” Johnson said. “They just have to understand that things are going to go wrong, but you still play hard. A lot of that comes with youth and we’re probably out-matched with experience every game and we’ve got to get better.
“We’ve improved in some areas, but in others we’ve regressed. If we can put it all together I feel like we can compete, but right now we’re just not doing it.”
For Bell on Friday, Smith and Logan Cox had doubles, while Pletcher, Dylan Cox, Brock and Jenkins all singled.
Thursday night the Bobcats pounded out 13 hits in a 23-13 win over Pineville. In that game Dylan Cox had a big night with four hits - including two triples- to drive in four runs. Pletcher, Smith and Cody Saylor had two hits apiece while Brock and Turner also singled.
Pineville was led by Tyler Evans with three hits. John Simpson and Jamie Roan both had triples and John Robbins also singled. Seth Jeffrey and Kyle Capps both scored three runs in the game.
Bell County (1-7) returns to action Tuesday against Danville.