LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Wednesday Bryan Station humbled North Laurel for the second time this season. The 12-2 loss was the first time the Jaguars have been run-ruled.
“I told them to learn something from it. Be able to bounce back,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
The Jaguars bounced back quickly with a 13-3 win at South Laurel Friday. The first time South Laurel has been run-ruled this season.
“They came in focused and did a good job,” McWhorter said. “We hit the ball well enough. Our pitcher threw well enough. Defensively we made the plays. All three phases and that was with us coming off a butt whipping.”
North Laurel has lost four games this season. They have not lost back-to-back games. The loss to Bryan Station ended a season’s-best nine-game winning streak
“Every time it’s happened, after a loss they’ve been able to bounce right back and win the next game. That says a lot about this team,” McWhorter said.
South Laurel has been on a roll as well with nine wins in its last 10 games. The lone loss in that span, to Middlesboro, was the only game they did not score double figures. So now South Laurel coach Wynn Harris must do like McWhorter. Convince his team to learn and move forward.
“I wasn’t destroyed by the score. I wasn’t destroyed by the loss. I felt like we put the ball in play. I think if we had made some more defensive plays and the ball had gone our way a little bit more it might be a different game,” Harris said.
The scoring began loudly in the first inning with Ryan Shears launching a 1-1 pitch from Daniel Neal for a three-run homer. Zach Storm had been hit by a pitch and Ethan Eversole walked to score ahead of Shears. The Jaguars were not done there. A hard single by Gabe Blair was followed by a Zach Hurley single. Taylor Bowling took first on an error that allowed Blair to score.
North Laurel could have tightened the noose in the second inning. Marcus Carson led off with a single and Storm was hit by a pitch for the second time. Charlie Davis, who had taken over on the mound to start the second inning, would work his way out of trouble.
“You think here we go. We’re going to be in a dogfight right here,” McWhorter said.
With the door open, South Laurel took advantage with three runs off Eversole. Of the four hits he allowed, three came in the second inning.
Stephen Simpson led off with a single, followed by a walk to Chase McWhorter. Drew Irvin popped up a bunt that was just over the pitcher’s head and fell for a hit to load the bases. A single by Charlie Davis drove in a pair of runs. The third run scored on a groundout by Trent Abner.
“I felt pretty comfortable. As comfortable as you can feel in a North-South game,” Harris said. “It’s just one of those things. As explosive as they are, you can get in trouble really quick.”
Trouble arrived in the third inning on RBI singles from Austin Thompson and Storm for a 6-3 lead. Thompson had a pair of hits, including a double in the ninth spot in the batting order.
“You worry about those guys (at the top of the order) a lot and then you think you’ve gotten through them and they’ve got guys top to bottom that have the ability to hurt you,” Harris said.
Eversole may have struggled in the second inning, but he would get stronger from there. He allowed just one more hit after the second inning. He would retire the last eight batters he faced, including four straight strikeouts.
“He’s done that the last couple of outings, so that’s not surprising,” McWhorter said.
The way Eversole was pitching a three-run lead might have been enough. North Laurel hit in the fifth inning like it wasn’t. The Jaguars would bat around for the second time in the game. Seven batter reached base before an out was recorded. Thompson led off with a double and Carson drove him in with a triple. Storm followed with an RBI single.
Brennan Miller took the mound, but didn’t fare much better. Eversole reached on an error and Shears walked to load the bases. John Evans drove in two runs with a hot-shot single.
McWhorter said he still wanted to manufacture runs until the lead reached double figures. He gave Blair a bunt sign, but he didn’t get the bunt down. He ripped the next pitch out of the park for the 10-run lead.
“I’m glad he missed (the bunt). He squared up and hit it pretty good,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel (20-4) earned their 20th win of the season with South Laurel (18-7) just two wins away.
The Jaguars have the weekend off for prom and will return to the field Monday at Corbin.
“It’s another one of those games you don’t know what’s going to happen. You just have to be ready to battle,” McWhorter said.
South Laurel played in the Scott McAnich Memorial Tournament in Somerset over the weekend and will host Jackson County tonight.