LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
CORBIN—Even after losing their first game in the Area 2 Tournament, it was easy to picture the North Laurel All-Stars advancing. Instead the goal of returning to the Little League 11-12 State Tournament ended Tuesday with a 6-5 loss to Corbin.
“We expected to win tonight and make it rough on a lot of teams, get back to state. That was our plan,” North Laurel coach David Bowling said.
That plan seemed to be working when North Laurel opened a 4-0 lead. Corbin would rally to take a lead in the third inning. North Laurel would tie the score in the fourth. The winning hit came in walk-off fashion when Garner Chandler bounced an RBI double off the right field fence.
“I thought we had them early and they fought back. They’re a good team,” Bowling said. “We’re disappointed. Big time.”
Cole Kelley opened the scoring with a towering home run to lead off the second. North Laurel also left four runners stranded in the first two innings. Several hard-hit balls would not find a hole.
“It’s one of those nights, like when we played Clay, that it just felt like it wasn’t our night,” Bowling said.
North Laurel made it a 4-0 lead with three runs in the top of the third. Blaine Miller singled and later scored on a wild pitch. James Shoptaw and Tanner Bowling each had RBI singles in the third inning.
North Laurel starting pitcher Colby Howard held Corbin in check the first two innings despite looking uncomfortable at times. Howard hyper extended his knee in the opening game and still moved with a heavy limp. Corbin was able to get to Howard in the third inning. It was an inning of walks, errors, and timely Corbin hitting that allowed the home team to pull ahead 5-4.
“We fought,” Bowling said. “We made a few errors that were costly.”
It would be a brief lead for Corbin. Seth McClure, the second batter of the fourth inning, blasted a game-tying home run.
The North Laurel pitching held Corbin in check, but at the plate they would get no breaks. The fifth inning ended with a double play on a hard line drive by Tanner Bowling right at the second baseman. There were two runners on in the sixth when Miller ripped a line drive right at shortstop Zac Hash.
Hash would also lead off the bottom of the sixth with a walk. Miller, who took over on the mound in the fifth inning, fanned the next batter. Cade Cooney hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. Chandler then drove a pitch off the right field fence to end the game.
Corbin advances to the district tournament, which they will be hosting. Clay County also advances as the Area 2 champion.