LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When North Laurel played at Harlan County in March, the Jaguars managed just a pair of runs and lost 3-2. In Monday’s rematch, North Laurel had that many runs after two batters.
“We hit it hard. Up and down the lineup it seemed like we were squaring it up pretty good,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
The Jaguars rolled to a 7-1 win with six runs coming in the first two innings. It was important to have a good showing against a Harlan County team they could face in the 13th Region Tournament.
“You don’t want to have two losses to them, but it’s the exactly the same scenario as last year,” McWhorter said.
When the two teams met at Harlan County on March 22, the Black Bears edged North Laurel 3-2. It was a late error that proved to be the difference.
Flash back to 2013 when Harlan County won 5-4 in the first meeting. A late throwing error cleared the bases and allowed a Black Bear rally. North Laurel won the second meeting 3-2 and also in the region finals 7-2.
Just as important is that Thursday’s win showed North Laurel has improved over the last two months, McWhorter said.
“Our team is improving. There is no doubt about that. We are better now than we were then. We hit it better. We run bases better. Our pitchers keep runners on better. We do all kinds of things better than we did early,” McWhorter said.
Ethan Maxey walked to open the game. No. 2 batter Weston Griebel unloaded on a pitch from Harlan County starter Tyler Cornett over the right field fence. Zach Hurley would reach on an error and score on a double by hot-hitting Austin Thompson. Thompson later scored on a Cole Lewis grounder for a 4-0 lead.
A two-run double by Thompson in the second inning made it a 6-0 game. Thompson had three hits on the night with four RBI.
The only run allowed by North Laurel starter Hurley was unearned in the fourth inning. Although Hurley allowed just one unearned run on three hits, McWhorter said he still didn’t have his best stuff. Hurley walked just one batter and struck out five.
“His curveball was kind of flat. He hit a couple of guys and we’re over here just dissecting him to pieces,” McWhorter said. “Then you see those numbers and they just scored one run and they didn’t have many hits. High expectations.”
The Jaguars final run came in the fifth inning when Jake McWhorter walked and scored on a deep fly ball by Griebel. North Laurel could and probably should have scored more. They left the bases loaded twice and stranded 12 runners.
“We didn’t get timely hitting late. Early we got some runs in and late we didn’t,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel was scheduled to play in the Scott McAnich Memorial this weekend in Somerset. The Jaguars opponents include Somerset, Southwestern, and Cumberland County.
“You go over there and play Somerset and Southwestern, you’re going to have you hands full,” McWhorter said.