LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel already had a deep pitching rotation, but now they have one more arm.
“You can’t have too much pitching. What it enables you to do is to rest instead of looking to hurry somebody back to throw a game. You have other guys you can trust,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
Chris Benge made his first varsity start Tuesday in an 8-3 win over Middlesboro. Benge held the Maroons in check on two hits in the first six innings as North Laurel built an 8-0 lead.
“He was able to throw a complete game and get a varsity win, which is always good when you are playing five games in a week,” McWhorter said.
Benge, a junior, played through Little League and middle school before sitting out the past two years.
“We’ve been trying to work his arm in shape throughout the season hoping he could give us that,” McWhorter said. “He’s a big, strong kid. He comes out and throws strikes and was able to throw his curveball for strikes.”
Although Pulaski County was able to score three runs in the seventh inning, McWhorter said it wasn’t a case of his pitcher running out of gas.
“They got some hits. They blooped some balls in. Then we try to throw people out on the bases and threw the ball away a couple of times. He was still throwing strikes,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel didn’t score in the first two innings, wasting doubles by Ethan Maxey and Cole Lewis. Maxey would get the third inning started with a single, followed by singles from Zach Hurley and Austin Thompson. Maxey finished the night 4-for-4.
“Ethan Maxey has been consistent for us. Austin Thompson’s been hitting well. Throughout in the lineup we’ve been putting it in play,” McWhorter said.
Thompson’s single drove in Maxey. Two more runs scored on a double by Logan Mallory for a 3-0 lead.
It was Maxey again in the fifth inning with a leadoff single. Weston Griebel drove a double off the left field fence to score Maxey.
“(Griebel) adjusted his swing real good. He didn’t look good the first two at bats. That last at bat he drove it hard opposite field with a tail on it,” McWhorter said.
Griebel would get thrown out at third, but the inning wasn’t over. Thompson drilled a triple and scored on another RBI double from Mallory to make it a 5-0 game.
“We sprayed it around pretty good tonight, but we’ve got guys that can bunt if we need to bunt. We’ve got guys that can drive a gap and get the extra base hits,” McWhorter said.
Five of North Laurel’s 12 hits were for extra bases. Three hits in the sixth inning were all singles with Jack Capobianco and Dylan Messer each driving in a run.
North Laurel was scheduled to host Harlan County Thursday. This weekend they travel to the Scott McAnich Memorial Tournament at Pulaski County where they will play Somerset, Cumberland County, and Southwestern.