LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel rolled to an 8-1 win over Clay County Tuesday and took a step toward top seed in the 49th District Tournament. The Jaguars can claim the top seed with a win at Jackson County Saturday.
North Laurel got a complete game on the mound from Logan Mallory and the team’s first home run of the season off the bat of Jake McWhorter. Coach Darren McWhorter said his team appears to have picked up some momentum during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach.
“Our last two games down there were our best two games of the whole trip. You like it when you are leaving playing your best,” McWhorter said.
Whether or not a lineup change has made a difference could be debated, but the last three games have also seen eighth grader Jack Capobianco starting at shortstop.
“He’s smooth out there defensively. He’s a nice player. Who knows? He’s been in there these last three games and we’ve played well these last three games,” McWhorter said. “Sometimes it’s something like that that boosts the team.”
Showdowns with Clay County are usually some of the most intense of the season. A meeting earlier this season was a 6-5 North Laurel win in extra innings. This night it was all North Laurel after Mallory worked out of trouble early. Mallory escaped a first inning jam where he walked a batter and hit another. He also left the bases loaded in the second inning after a pair of singles and a walk.
“I thought Logan threw really well. He got off to a little slow start in the first inning. After that he worked his way out of a couple of jams,” McWhorter said.
Clay County starter Austin Dezarn wasn’t as fortunate. The Jaguars scored three runs in the first inning on three hits. Ethan Maxey led off with a single. Zach Hurley reached on an error with one out that allowed Maxey to score. Austin Thompson and Cole Lewis followed with RBI singles.
“We’ve seen a lot of good pitching and these guys have adjusted to it. Hopefully that will continue,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel added two more runs in the second inning. Jake McWhorter led off with a double and Capobianco drew a walk. McWhorter was able to sneak home as part of a double steal. Capobianco scored on an error for a 5-0 lead.
Clay County’s only run came in the third inning. Tyler Allen stroked a sharp double. He would score when Travis Mills dropped a soft liner just over the infield.
North Laurel would get that run back quickly. Mallory reached on an error to open the bottom of the third. After a Cole Lewis single, Austin Rudder turned on an inside pitch. Rudder’s double down the left field line drove in both runners.
In the fifth inning, Jake McWhorter drilled a pitch over the right field fence for the first North Laurel home run of the season. The North Laurel coach said he doesn’t worry about home runs in a ballpark not willing to give up many long balls.
“All the way through our lineup we have guys that can put a swing on one and do some damage,” McWhorter said.
The Jaguars added an insurance run in the sixth inning. Mallory was hit by a pitch and Lewis followed with a double. Hurley drove in the final run with a single.