By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
CORBIN—It wasn’t the start North Laurel coach Greg Binder was hoping for.
Knox County used three pitchers to keep North Laurel scoreless and smacked two home runs in a 6-0 win Monday night in the opening round of the boys’ 11-12 year old district tournament at Corbin.
After scoring one run in the first, Thomas Jackson hit a two-run homer in the second inning gave Knox County a 3-0 lead.
“We got in a hole early and that didn’t help,” Binder said.
North Laurel started Noah Smith, but the Knox batters had five hits and three runs off North’s ace. Binder said that surprised him.
“They hit Noah better than I thought they would,” Binder said. “Especially the top of their line up.”
Knox scored one run in the top of the first when Caleb Adams led off with a double to center and scored when Trey Owens followed with a single. Jackson’s two-run shot with Cole Hicks on board made it 3-0 in the top of the third.
Meanwhile, North was having trouble with Knox pitcher Caleb Powers, who struck out seven batters in his first three innings of work, many of them on called third strikes.
“We watched a lot of balls go by,” Binder said.
North looked to have something going in the bottom of the third when, with two outs, Alex Binder and Ben Philpot hit back-to-back singles, but Powers struck out Smith to end the inning.
With one out in the fourth, Binder decided to pull Smith and put Alex Binder in to pitch. He pitched well, holding Knox scoreless until the top of the sixth when he was taken out in and Hutton Shepherd took over with one out.
“Our plan was to take Noah and Alex out early to save them for later games,” Binder said.
Knox scored three runs in the sixth, two off the bat of Tucker Holland, who smacked a homer to deep left-center with Adam Lay on second to make it 5-0. Knox would tack one more run on to up its lead to 6-0.
In the bottom of the inning, Smith led off with a single to left but was forced at second on a grounder by Shepherd. Holland, who had taken over on the mound, then struck out the next two batters to end the game.
“I felt like we were going to beat Knox,” Binder said. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen. We talked to the team before the game about scenarios if we fall into the loser’s bracket. I reminded them that two years ago, we beat Knox in the first round, then they battled through the loser’s bracket and beat us twice to win the district. We are just going to take it one game at a time.”
North Laurel was scheduled to play the winner of the last night’s Harlan County-Pulaski game tonight at 8 p.m.