LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
HARLAN — Failing to come up with the key two-out hit. That was the big culprit in North Laurel’s 8-6 loss to Harlan County in Senior League tournament action Monday.
“Even though we played poorly tonight, we were still in a position to win this game,” said North head coach Bill Abner. “But we had so many strikeouts where we didn’t lift the bat off our shoulders, we didn’t really give ourselves a chance.”
Indeed, North fanned 12 times, with nine of those being caught looking.
“The plate ump had a big strike zone, but you have to recognize that and go up with an aggressive mind set,” Abner said. “A lot of our guys didn’t do that tonight.”
North fell behind 3-0 in the first and had to play catch-up all night. They did have the tying runs on in both the fifth and seventh innings, but a spectacular catch by the Harlan left fielder on a deep drive by Austin Rudder saved the day for the home team in the last inning.
The loss meant that North had to make the long drive to Harlan again on Tuesday night for the championship game. North had claimed the winner’s bracket, while Harlan suffered a loss to Clay County early in the tournament.
Still, Abner said, North is in good shape for a bid to advance to the state tournament in LaGrange, which begins Saturday.
“We have Dylan Messer and Ray Hays both ready to go, while Harlan threw their ace in this one. But we have play at a higher level. Besides the strikeouts, we made a lot of uncharacteristic errors tonight.”
They hadn’t done that in the winner’s bracket final, where they hammered Clay County, 9-0.
“We were flawless in the field in that one,” Abner noted, “and we saw their ace as well. We just have to get back to that type of play.”
Messer, Hays and Jake McWhorter combined for the shutout against Clay. “A well-pitched game, Dylan looked especially dominant, but we got him out after we got a big lead so he would be available for the finals,” Abner explained.
He also singled out catcher Trey Feltner for his efforts so far. “He has been money behind the plate, and has been our best hitter as well, with a .667 average so far. He has only had one at-bat where he didn’t reach base in some fashion.”
The winner of Tuesday’s game was slated to face South Oldham Saturday at 6:30 at Oldham County High School.