LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
HARLAN—It took a late rally, capped off by a walk-off single by Trey Martin that scored Tucker Martin, to lift the South Laurel Cardinals past Knox Central, 3-2, in the opening round of the 13th Region baseball tournament Monday at Harlan County.
“That’s why this is tournament time,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “There’s an old saying survive and advance. It was a well-played game.”
That’s exactly what the Cards did, setting up a semifinal match-up with North Laurel Tuesday night.
South Laurel’s Trey Martin took the mound for the Cardinals, while Knox Central countered with Seth Hill. Both pitchers turned in a quality performance, with Martin keeping the Panthers off the scoreboard until they touched him for two runs in the top of the fifth. At that time the Cards held a 1-0 lead.
“Both guys threw well,” Harris said.
Knox Central missed a golden opportunity to take control of the game in the first inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out after Martin walked two and gave up a single. But the Cardinal hurler settled down, striking out Braden Imel and getting Casey Patterson to hit into a fielder’s choice.
South left a runner on base in both the first and second inning before pushing one across in the third for the 1-0 lead. With two outs, Martin doubled to center then came home on a single by Daniel Neal.
It stayed 1-0 until the top of the fifth when the Panthers scored twice to take a 2-1 lead.
Zach Earls walked to lead off the inning and was moved to second on a sacrifice by Trevor Sanborn. Jaxon Stewart followed with a single to right. Drew Mills then put down a bunt that Braden Miller fielded at third, but his throw to first was errant, allowing two runs to score.
“Not saying that they wouldn’t have scored those runs but we really helped them,” Harris said.
The Cards got one of those runs back in the sixth to tie the game at 2-2.
Neal led off with a single to center and scored when Zach Allen doubled to left. On the play, Allen took a wide turn at second and was thrown out. Braden Miller followed with a single to left but was left stranded when Taylor Morris struck out and Brennan Miller popped out to short.
Earls opened the top of the seventh with a double to right but the Panthers never could get a hit to push the go-ahead run across.
Evan Lay took over on the mound for the Panthers in the bottom of the inning and he walked the first batter he faced, Derek Spurlock. Spurlock moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Austin Vigeant. Harris elected to bring Tucker Martin in as a courtesy runner for Spurlock at second.
Following a Joe Gaines pop out to second for the second out of the inning Trey Martin stepped to the plate and laced a single to left-center to score his younger brother and give the Cardinals the 3-2 win.
“I really liked the resolve we played with,” Harris said.