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March 24, 2014

Jags nip Tigers in extra innings

Rice’s walk-off single in the 9th scores Lewis for the 6-5 win

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A Byron Rice walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth scored Cole Lewis to give the North Laurel Jaguars a 6-5 win over visiting Clay County Friday night.

The game was originally supposed to be with Jackson County but the Generals were playing in the All “A” and had to cancel their game with North. The Jaguars picked up Clay County to fill the void.

But things didn’t go off as planned. A 5:30 p.m. start time was pushed back two hours due to no officials. Phone calls were made and two officials were finally located.

“This could have easily turned out to be a 16-15 game,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said. “You had a new opponent, a long wait to start the game, anything could have happened. It wound up being a very well pitched game on both sides considering we were both throwing young players.”

Ray Hays got the start for North and went five innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Dylan Messer came in to relieve him in the sixth inning and pitched the final three innings to pick up the win.

Clay jumped on top first, scoring two runs in the top of the first helped along by one North Laurel error. The Tigers added a third run in the top of the third to make it 3-0.

North Laurel finally broke through in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs to tie the game.

With one out, Weston Griebel sent a fly ball to left that was misplayed. Two throwing errors later and Griebel had scored all the way from first base. Logan Mallory then hit a hard shot off the pitcher’s glove for a base hit. After Austin Thompson flew out, Zach Hurley tripled to right to score Mallory and make it 3-2. A single by Cole Lewis brought Hurley home to tie the game at 3-3. The Jags had the bases loaded but Rice hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

North made it 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth when Ethan Maxey led off with a single to center, moved to second on a ground out and third on a passed ball, where Hunter North came in to run for the North catcher. North scored on a wild pitch.

Messer entered the game to pitch in the top of the sixth, striking out the first two batters he faced then got the next to ground out to short.

The Tigers would take the lead in the top of the seventh, scoring twice to make it 5-4.

Lewis led off the home half of the inning by reaching on a error and advancing to second on a wild pitch. On the throw to second the Clay County player faked a tag, which is against the rules and allowed Lewis to move to third. Austin Rudder then laid down a perfect bunt that scored Lewis to tie the game at 5-5 and send it to extra innings.

Both teams left runners on base in the eighth, and Clay left one on in the top of the ninth.

Lewis led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and stole second. He advanced to third on a ground out by Jake McWhorter. Rice then hit a little flare out into center where the Clay County player made a diving attempt at and had the ball for a second but couldn’t hang on and Lewis came home for the winning run.

“I’m glad to see us battle back and stay focused,” McWhorter said. “And glad to see the bottom of our line up produce. Anytime you can play a district and region foe and win it’s nice. I’m glad we got to play under the lights for the first time this year. It was Clay’s first time under the lights too and they lost a couple of fly balls in the lights. It worked out for us and I’m glad we stayed in it mentally.”

The Jaguars were scheduled to play at Harlan County Saturday, then host Southwestern tonight.

sports@sentinel-echo.com

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