Photo | Mark Elkins

Collier Elkins connects on a single for the Yellow Jackets in their 3-2 victory over the South Laurel Cardinals at home on Thursday.

Jackets finish regular season with win over South Laurel

The Middlesboro Yellow Jackets ended the regular season with a bang on Thursday after defeating the South Laurel Cardinals 3-2 at home.

After starting the season 2-7, the Yellow Jackets have gone 12-3 since April 10, including a six-game winning streak from April 25 to May 9 that was ended against Whitley County at home on Monday.

“Justice wasn’t as sharp today as what he has been,” said Middlesboro coach John Smith, “He stuck in there and gave us five good innings and kept us in the game. The defense played great behind him I thought. We started out wearing the ball out, then we took a couple of innings off and couldn’t get the bat off our shoulders.

“We ended with nine hits but only three runs. That just shows that we spread them out throughout the game. We didn’t really have any timely hits, but we got them when we needed them. Harris came in and did what he’s been doing all year for us. He just came in and shut the door and got himself another save.”

The Yellow Jackets began the game by showcasing their defense. They downed three straight Cardinal batters to retire the side. In the bottom of the first, Middlesboro took a 1-0 lead when Braden Ausmus connected on an RBI single, driving in Collier Elkins.

It wasn’t until the top of the third inning that the Cardinals were able to notch their first run of the game. South Laurel’s Reed Marcum connected on a line-drive RBI double, driving in Landen Roark and tying the game at 1-1.

In the top half of the fifth, the Cardinals took their first lead of the game when Marcum connected on a solo home run, giving South Laurel a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Middlesboro tied the game when Ausmus connected on an RBI, but he was called out on a tag at second base. Later in the inning, Lane Perry was able to round home on a South Laurel error, giving Middlesboro a permanent one-run lead.

With the victory, the Yellow Jackets improved to 14-10 on the season. Middlesboro is slated to take on the Harlan Green Dragons in the opening round of the 52nd District Tournament at Bell County High School on Monday at 5 p.m.

With the loss, the Cardinals moved to 11-20 on the season. The Cardinals will take on their in-county rival, North Laurel, on Saturday at home.

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Middlesboro — 100 020 0. 3. 9. 0.

South Laurel — 001 010 0. 2. 5. 1.

Justice, Harris (6) and Ausmus; Salva, Dixon (2), Mullins (5) and Marcum. WP — Justice. LP — Salva. CP — Harris.