By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BARBOURVILLE-When North Laurel faced Corbin’s Kevin Goins twice this season, the Jaguars managed just four runs off of him in those two games.
Monday afternoon they scored that many runs in the first inning en route to a 10-0 win in the opening round of the 13th Region baseball tournament at Knox Central.
“That was huge getting those runs early,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said. “It relieved some of the pressure. To tell you the truth, I am kind of shocked at the score. Goins gave us fits both times we played them. I don’t know what the difference was today.”
The difference might have been getting timely hits that scored runs, something McWhorter said his team didn’t do in the other two meetings. Marcus Carson and Austin Thompson both homered, while Ethan Maxey had three doubles. Carson and Weston Griebel also doubled in the win.
Prior to the game, McWhorter said he had a good feeling. That feeling proved true when the Jaguars touched Goins for four runs in the first inning to jump on the Redhounds early.
“I got that good feeling during batting practice this past week,” McWhorter said. “We’ve been playing well lately, making the plays, getting good pitching and scoring runs.”
Carson, coming off being named the 13th Region player of the year, got things started with a double to left and scored when Griebel reached on an error, the first of two Corbin would commit in the inning. Maxey then smacked his first double, and Hunter North came in as a courtesy runner. Zach Hurley, who was also the winning pitcher, reached on another error which allowed Griebel to score. Dylan Messer was brought in as a courtesy runner of the North pitcher.
A sacrifice fly by Thompson to center scored North to make it 3-0. Logan Mallory then drove in Messer with a single to right for North’s fourth run.
Corbin got its only hit of the game in the top of the second when Phillip Jones hit a hard grounder to short that Cole Lewis was getting ready to make the play on when it hit the lip of the grass and bounced up and past Lewis. Other than that, Hurley kept the Redhounds in check, striking out five, walking four and hitting one batter.
“Zach gave us four strong innings,” McWhorter said. “He can come back on Thursday and pitch if we make it that far and need him.”
With two outs in the second, Carson took a 1-0 offering from Goins and deposited it over the right field fence for a 5-0 lead. Griebel followed with a double to right and scored on Maxey’s second double of the game.
Thompson opened up the scoring in the bottom of the third with a lead-off home run to make it 7-0. It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth, when the Jaguars scored three to end the game due to the Mercy Rule. Griebel came in to pitch the top of the fifth for North Laurel.
Maxey smacked his third double to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Hurley followed a single that scored North (running for Maxey). Mallory drew a walk, and now with two runners on, Byron Rice singled to right to bring them home and give North Laurel the 10-0 win.
“I said it would take us until after Spring Break before we figured things out,” McWhorter said. “Hopefully we can put together two more games.”
The Jaguars were scheduled to face Middlesboro last night in the semifinals. The Yellow Jackets beat Knox Central, 3-1.