John Dunn | Daily News

Hegen Owens connects on an RBI single during Middlesboro’s 17-2 victory over Harlan on Thursday.

Middlesboro downs Harlan 17-2 in three innings

One day after defeating Harlan on the road, the Yellow Jackets downed the Green Dragons at home on Thursday night, 17-2, in three innings.

“Our pitching has been one of our strong points for most of the season,” said Middlesboro coach John Smith. “Callihan wasn’t as hot tonight, but we gave him a 10-run lead early. Freshman Tyler Harris come in and did what he has done all year. He’s been a bulldog and closed out some big games for us. He did the same tonight.

“Our bats have been hot for about the past two weeks. We’ve been coming around and sticking it pretty good, especially with runners in scoring position. We’ve been able to hit some timely hits lately and put ourselves in a good position.”

“We came out flat tonight,” said Harlan coach Cory Estep. “Hats off to coach Smith and Middlesboro. They came to play tonight. We had too many fielding errors and just couldn’t seem to ever get going on the sticks. We started flat, and we finished flat. We’re just going to get back to work and fix our mistakes.”

Things looked promising for Harlan in the first inning as Will Varner led off with a double that hit halfway up the fence in the outfield.

Killian Ledford stepped in the box for the Green Dragons, delivering a pop-fly that allowed Varner to advance to third base. Ledford was caught out by the right fielder, leaving the Green Dragons with one out.

Evan Browning was walked, before stealing second base, leaving two runners on base for Harlan with only one out. On the ensuing batter, Joshua Knuckles was walked, loading the bases for the Green Dragons with only one out.

Michael Robinson then delivered a line-drive RBI single, giving the Green Dragons the early lead at 1-0. Knuckles was thrown out at second during the play for the second out. On the ensuing play, Knuckles attempted to steal second from first, and was caught in a run-down and tagged out at second base, retiring the side.

Collier Elkins led off for the Yellow Jackets and was walked to first base before stealing second. Tyshawn Simpson stepped into the box after Elkins and was walked as well, leaving two runners on base for the Yellow Jackets.

Braden Ausmus delivered a two-RBI line drive to right-center field to give Middlesboro the 2-1 lead.

Chris Callihan drove in Elkins on an RBI single to increase the lead to 3-1. A Lane Perry RBI single increased the lead to three runs (4-1).

John North delivered a single and was called safe at first as the first baseman was unable to come up with the throw from second base.

The errors continued to snowball for the Green Dragons. On the ensuing batter, Riley Gent delivered a pop-fly that was dropped by the Harlan’s pitcher, loading the bases for the Yellow Jackets.

With Perry, North and Gent on base, Hegen Owens reached on another error from Harlan’s first baseman that allowed one runner to score increasing the lead to 5-1. With the bases loaded, Stephen Justice was hit by a pitch, bringing North in for another Yellow Jacket run (6-1).

Harlan switched pitchers, bringing Robinson to the mound. The switch in pitchers didn’t seem to affect the Yellow Jackets, as the ensuing batter, Elkins, delivered a two-RBI double to balloon the margin to 8-1.

The Green Dragons finally tallied an out as Simpson was struck out swinging by Robinson. Ausmus added another RBI to give Middlesboro a 9-1 lead.

Callihan delivered another RBI single, extending the Yellow Jacket lead to 10-1, in the first inning.

Perry delivered a sac-fly on the next at-bat, driving a run home, extending the Middlesboro lead to 11-1 as the inning drew to a close.

Leading off in the second, Hawkins was walked to first base before the following batter, Caleb Adkins, was walked as well, leaving two runners on base for the Green Dragons. On the ensuing batter, Ledford was struck out looking, giving the Jackets one out.

Mills was walked for the Green Dragons, loading the bases. Varner was then hit-by-pitch, allowing a run for Harlan, cutting the lead to 11-2. The walked run would be the Green Dragon’s last of the game.

Middlesboro went on to score six unanswered runs during the remainder of the game to earn the 15-run victory.

“The trip to Myrtle Beach was a real bonding trip for the team,” said Smith. “It was nice to have no distractions. We were just down there practicing and playing without worrying about much else. Of course we want to win while we are down there, but we were there to get better. We weren’t worried about our win-loss record. We saw some really good pitching down there and I think it really helped us get better.”

With the victory, Middlesboro moved to 7-7 on the season. They take on the Whitley County Colonels Saturday on the road. With the loss, the Green Dragons moved to 6-10 on the season ahead of their match-up with the Whitley County Colonels on Saturday.