LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When evenly matched teams meet it’s just a play or a pitch that can make the difference. Southwestern coach Alex Eaton would like to have a few pitches back in Monday’s 5-3 loss at North Laurel. The Jaguars two biggest hits came on 0-2 pitches. The other three runs scored on one error.
“That’s their five runs right there. The 0-2 pitches were balls in the middle of the plate,” Eaton said.
Otherwise it was a strong performance from Southwestern starter Trevor Howard. Howard also started on the mound in the Warriors only other loss, an extra-inning affair with another 13th Region contender South Laurel.
“We did a good job getting some timely hits on him. He was dealing it up there,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
North Laurel got to Howard early with a run in the first inning. Weston Griebel singled and scored on a two-out single by Zach Hurley.
That lead held up until the fourth inning when the Warriors got to North Laurel starter Logan Mallory for a couple of runs. The Southwestern rally started with Mallory plunking both Howard and Vincent Boils with pitches. Lucas Turpin doubled to centerfield to drive in both runs. Zack Profitt became the third batter hit in the inning.
“It was just (Mallory’s) release. He said he was feeling good,” McWhorter said. It was Mallory’s first outing since the season opener against Rockcastle County.
Chris Lynch bunted back to Mallory, who fielded and turned to first only to find no one covering. The bases were loaded with nobody out, but Mallory would work his way out with a fly ball and two infield pop ups.
“He threw really well. Logan came out and matched (Howard) for the most part,” McWhorter said.
The Jaguars answered in the bottom of the inning. Jake McWhorter led off with a double on a two-strike pitch and scored on a double by Ethan Maxey.
“Our whole team knows you don’t give up 0-2 hits like that. If we do, they are little dinks,” Eaton said. “Our pitcher threw a good game except for basically three pitches. Those three pitches got us.”
The Jaguars took the lead with three runs in the fifth inning with the help of Southwestern error. The inning started with a walk to Austin Thompson and Hurley’s second single of the night.
“Zach Hurley had two big hits. He’s starting to hit it a lot better now. I like what he’s doing,” McWhorter said.
Cole Lewis laid down a bunt to advance to runners, but would advance them much further than planned. The throw sailed over the first baseman’s head and allowed two runs to score. Lewis then scored on a fly ball by Austin Rudder.
“We should have had an opportunity to win. We just made a couple of mistakes defensively against a good team. They threw two good guys at us and we made one error that led to three runs,” Eaton said.
When Mallory walked Turpin to lead off the sixth inning Hurley would be called on to save the win. Turpin would score despite Hurley striking out five of the eight batters he faced. Two reached on errors, which didn’t please the North Laurel coach.
“You’re going to get back on your heels and let him blow it by them. It’s not always going to be that way. People are going to put the ball in play on him. We’re going to have to be ready to make plays,” McWhorter said.
Hurley was able to work his way out of the trouble caused by his team’s errors in the seventh inning. Unlike the error that led to three North Laurel runs.
“That’s the name of the game. You have to make more plays than the other team and we didn’t,” Eaton said.