LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
STEARNS—It was just another day at the office. There weren’t a lot of fireworks after Zach Storm’s first inning home run, but enough for North Laurel (13-3) to coast to an 8-4 win at McCreary Central.
“It’s a cool night. Not many people out on this cold night. There was not a lot of atmosphere going on. You can come into these games not ready to go, but we were able to get the job done,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
Austin Thompson threw a complete game for the win, allowing just two hits and striking out six. He walked three batters and North Laurel committed three errors to lead to three unearned runs. Thompson had not thrown since Spring Break in Florida. Saturday’s rain cost North Laurel games with Clay County and Rockcastle County. It also cost Thompson a start.
“Austin threw well enough. These cold nights can change how you throw the ball and the things you do,” McWhorter said.
The temperature may have contributed to the walks and the errors. The few fans that did attended were bundled in blankets and jackets, looking more like a fall football game than spring baseball.
“It’s hard to stay loose and you get tight. Just an inch or two can be the difference in a ball or a strike,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel beat the Raiders 11-1 in an earlier meeting this year. This time the runs came harder. It seemed to throw off the North Laurel batters that McCreary changed pitchers every two innings.
“You’re seeing a different guy and a different look every time. That can mess with your swing a little bit, but we got enough hits to score some runs,” McWhorter said.
The Jaguars stroked 13 hits and looked early like they might slug their way to an easy win. Marcus Carson led off the game with a single. Storm parked the first pitch he saw beyond the leftfield fence for a two-run homer. Back-to-back singles by Ryan Shears and John Evans, followed by Gabe Blair being plunked by a pitch loaded the bases. Zach Hurley ground into a fielder’s choice to score Shears and give the Jaguars a 3-0 lead.
McCreary Central answered with a couple of runs in the second inning. Adam Simpson led off with a single and Alex Barnett walked. An error allowed Simpson to score with Barnett moving to scoring position. Tyler Strunk’s grounder drove in Barnett and made it a 3-2 game.
The Jaguars would get one run back in the bottom of the third. Storm led off with a single and scored on a single by Shears. Four more runs in the fourth inning came from five straight North Laurel hits. Taylor Bowling and Austin Thompson singled. Carson singled home Bowling. Storm drove in two more runs with a double, his third hit of the night. Storm scored on a balk when the pitcher dropped the ball while on the rubber.
The Raiders added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings with both runners reaching on errors.
The Jaguars were scheduled to play Jackson County Tuesday for home field advantage in the first round of the 49th District Tournament. Tonight they will get a chance to avenge one of their three losses with a trip to Clay County, the top seed in the district. Danville cancelled its game with North Laurel tonight due to the All A Tournament.
North Laurel 5, Perry Central 1
Perry Central scored a run in the first inning, but managing nothing else against Shears. Devin Turner singled and scored on an error. Shears allowed just four hits and struck out nine.
The Commodores bats were not the only ones that were quiet. McWhorter said it was not a case of an overpowering pitcher.
“He threw slow ball and a slower ball and we struggled. He was throwing a slow fastball and a slower change up,” McWhorter said. “We beat it into the ground and popper it up the whole game.”
The Jaguars did most of their damage in the third inning. After a single by Hurley, Carson reached on an error. A single by Storm drove in Hurley to tie the game. Shears walked to load the bases and Evans delivered a two-run single. Blair reached on an error that allowed Shears to score.
That would be all the scoring until the seventh inning when Ethan Eversole launched a solo home run, his second of the year.