LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
A few errors and runners left on base are not enough to worry North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter in mid March.
“You can expect this type of thing early in the season. Especially when pitcher’s arms aren’t in shape,” McWhorter said.
The Jaguars committed five errors in an 8-3 loss to Somerset. Most led to runs for the Briar Jumpers. North Laurel also left 10 runners on bases, more than enough to make up the five-run deficit.
“We left the bases loaded a couple of times and didn’t get the timely hitting with people in scoring position. We were getting guys on. We were getting base hits,” McWhorter said.
Somerset opened the scoring in the second with the help of two hit batters to open the inning. Bryson Jones and Logan Ramsey were both plunked by North Laurel starter Byron Rice. Kenny Spear legged out an infield hit to load the bases. It looked like North Laurel might get out of the inning when Will Hislope grounded back to the mound for a double play. Rice threw out the runner at home with catcher Ethan Maxey then firing to first for the double play. Rice fanned Isaac Stephens on a low breaking pitch. The pitch would bounce wide and allow Ramsey to trot home for the first run.
It wouldn’t be the only time a bounce or bobble would hurt the Jaguars.
“They all led to runs. If we make a play we get out of an inning,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel bounced back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Austin Thompson walked to lead off the inning. Thompson would go 2-for-2 on the night with a pair of singles. With one out, Cole Lewis reached on an error. Jake McWhorter drove in both runners when he drilled a 0-1 pitch into centerfield for a single.
The North Laurel lead would be just as short. The Briar Jumpers went back on top 3-2 with a pair of runs. Jacob Pelston, Charlie Dishman, Haden Fox, and Ramsey led off the inning with consecutive singles.
North Laurel added a run in the third inning. Maxey reached on a single to lead off the inning and scored on a single by Logan Mallory for a 3-3 tie
Pelston and Stephens both singled and scored in the fourth inning as Somerset took the lead for good. It was another error that allowed the runs to cross the plate.
“It comes down to making plays. We had several plays that we had a chance to make. Some of them were routine that we ended up making bobbles on and they ended up scoring runs,” McWhorter said. “Anytime you make errors and don’t make plays to help yourself get out of an inning, it’ll come back to bite you.”
Bryson Jones reached on an error to lead off the fifth inning. Another error allowed him to score for a 6-3. Jones and Ramsey both singled and scored again in the seventh inning for the Briar Jumpers.
“Last year started out no different than this. It really didn’t. Some days you’ll come out and get a really good clean game and sometimes you won’t,” McWhorter said.
The Jaguars were scheduled to face Jackson County Friday in a district-seeding game. Saturday a trip to Harlan County would give North Laurel a test against another high-rated 13th Region team.