LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Slumps in baseball are a common thing. Major League teams go through slumps all the time.
South Laurel is in one of those slumps right now, dropping its third straight game Tuesday night with a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Corbin. In those three losses the Cards have been outscored 12-3. But there’s a key difference between slumps in high school and in the pros.
“We only play 36 games while the majors play 162,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “We’ve gotta figure out what is wrong and finish out strong.”
The loss to Corbin was the second straight to the Redhounds and almost guarantees Corbin gets the No. 1 seed in the district tournament.
“We’ve put ourselves in a bind and pretty much gave them the No. 1 seed,” Harris said. “That’s probably going to put us facing Whitley County in the district.”
South Laurel founds itself in a 4-0 hole after the first inning, and inning that was marred by mistakes, both physical and mental. Two errors plus a dropped foul ball allowed the Redhounds to touch pitcher Braden Miller for four runs.
Phillip Jones led things off for Corbin (10-8, 4-0) by reaching on one of those errors, and Taylor Combs singled to center. After Austin Combs flew out to center, Nick Vorbeck reached on another error which allowed Jones to score to make it 1-0.
With two runners on and one out, Peyton Buford stepped into the box. He fouled a pitch off that catcher Taylor Morris battled the wind on and the ball ended up hitting off Morris’ glove, giving Buford another life. He would make the most of it, taking the next pitch from Miller and depositing it over the left field fence to make it 4-0.
“Those were uncharacteristic mistakes,” Harris said. “Some of them don’t go down as errors because they were mental mistakes. We got in a hole early.”
The Cards also had a couple of base running mistakes in the game, one in the third inning when, with one out, Morris flew out to center and Tucker Martin, who was running for Miller (who had drawn a walk to lead off the inning) was doubled off first.
South Laurel (14-5, 2-2) looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the third when with one out, Derek Spurlock singled and Trey Martin followed with a double. With runners on second and third and only one out, Joe Gaines flew out to center and Spurlock took off for home, where he was gunned down to keep the Cards off the scoreboard.
“Our base running wasn’t sharp,” Harris said.
Corbin made it 5-0 in the fifth as Jones doubled with one out and scored on a single by Taylor Combs.
The Cards finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs to avoid being shutout for the second straight night by the Redhounds.
With one out, Morris doubled to right. After the second out, Austin Vigeant singled to right to put two runners on for Spurlock, who laced a double down the right field line to cut the lead to 5-2. Trey Martin then grounded out to second to end the game.
“Too little too late,” Harris said. “I have no clue what is going on with us right now. I wish I did. Right now we are playing adequate baseball. I hope this is a wake-up call. Hopefully this is just a midseason funk but at this point there are no excuses. Maybe we are a by-product of our early success. We’ve got to bring our ‘A’ performance because we are going to get everybody’s ‘A’ game. We’re not playing our best but in reality it really doesn’t matter as long as we are playing our best at the end of the year. I still like my team. They have good character.”
The Cards were scheduled to face Corbin again Thursday night then take on Woodford County tonight.