Bears ‘win one for Ben’ at Bell

LOG MOUNTAIN — John Lewis took a page out of the Roger Morris book of baseball on Thursday as the Harlan County Black Bears played their best game of the season in an 11-4 win at Bell County.

The Bears gave Bell fits early in the game with a well-executed attack of bunts down the third base line, much like what you might have seen when Lewis played for Morris in the 1980s and the Redskins were dominating the 13th Region. HCHS had three bunts in a three-run first inning and two more in a two-run second. HCHS raced to an 11-0 lead through three and a half innings on the way to its first district win of the season.

“It worked out well. If I could have got (assistant coach Drew) Chamberlain’s attention, we would have bunted more. We scored 11 in the first four innings, then I think we got satisfied,” Lewis said. “We did substitute some though because we needed to get some the guys playing time.”

“They bunted us to death,” Bell County coach Scott Chaney said. “We were there to field the ball, but we just couldn’t make a play. They continued bunting and we continued making errors. They got a big lead and we couldn’t come back.”

Junior right-hander J Harris thrived with an early lead and retired the first 11 Bobcats. Harris could have had a five-inning perfect game if not for two straight two-out errors in the fourth inning that helped Bell score four unearned runs and extend the game to seven innings. Harris finished with a three-hitter, striking out 10 and walking two.

“His location was great. He was real consistent,” Lewis said. “Chamberlain and our other coaches have done a great job getting them prepared since I’ve been out so much lately.”

Senior right fielder Garry Henson led the HCHS (3-9 overall, 1-2 district) with two singles and a sacrifice fly. Justin Brown, Zac Collett, Tyler Casolari, Harris, Quinton Boggs, Eli Estep and Antonio Roman added one single each.

Hayden Clark had a triple and single with three RBI to lead Bell (5-8 overall, 1-2 district) Alex Mays added a single.

D.J. Estes was the victim of the Bobcats’ early defensive problems as he suffered the loss, giving up nine runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Cole Hoskins added two runs on two hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 4 2/3 innings.

After Brown opened the game with a walk, Henson beat out the first of the bunt singles. Tyler Casolari was safe on an error when his bunt was mishandled. Jon Wilder drew a bases-loaded walk for the first run, then Henson raced home on a wild pitch. Boggs drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt for a 3-0 lead.

Michael Simpson was hit by a pitch to open the second inning, then Collett and Brown followed with bunt singles for the fourth run. Henson beat out an infield hit to bring in the fifth run.

Boggs and Estep opened the third inning with singles. Roman had an RBI single and another run scored when the Bobcats were unable to handle another Brown bunt. Another wild pitch and a Henson sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 9-0.

Wilder walked and Harris singled in the fourth inning. Boggs and Jordan Steele followed with RBI ground outs to close the HCHS scoring.

Harris held the Bobcats without a base runner until two straight errors opened the door. Harris walked JM Baker and Isaac Collett to force in a run before Clark cleared the bases with a triple to deep left. Harris then settled down again, retiring 10 of the last 12 he faced.

The two teams play again Friday at Harlan County.

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Harlan County 324 200 0 — 11. 8. 3

Bell County 000 400 0 — 4 3. 5

Harris and Casolari; Estes, Hoskins (3) and Smith. WP — Harris (1-4). LP — Estes.