LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
You can’t ask for much more than solid pitching and timely hitting. North Laurel had both areas covered in an 8-0 win over Middlesboro Thursday.
“I thought our pitchers came out and threw well. Ray Hays, Dylan Messer, and even Jake (McWhorter) came in for an inning. They threw strikes,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
The three pitchers combined for seven strikeouts and just one walk in tossing a four-hit shutout.
The only trouble for the North Laurel staff came in the first inning. Jake Brock opened with a double. A one-out single by Tyler Yoakum and a walk to Cole Frazier loaded the bases. Matthew Mike grounded into a fielder’s choice with Jake McWhorter stopping a hot shot and throwing home. Hays struck out Tyler Prater to end the inning.
“Ray got in a little jam there early and we made the plays behind him which was nice,” McWhorter said.
The bats started quick as well. Carrying the momentum of the threat they stopped in the top of the inning, North Laurel struck for three runs.
“We hit the ball around pretty hard and even some of the balls we got out on I thought we hit really, really hard. We were squaring it up and hitting it pretty good,” McWhorter said.
Singles by Ethan Maxey and Zach Hurley, along with a walk to Austin Thompson loaded the bases. Logan Mallory cleared the bases by ripping an 1-0 pitch for a bases-clearing double.
“He put some good swings on some good pitches tonight. He was a little bit more patient,” McWhorter said.
Mallory was 3-for-3 with a walk and six RBI. It appears he is adjusting well to a change in the batting order.
“He’s been hitting in the three hole. I flipped him and Zach after that first game. This is what happens. When you hit in the three hole and you hit in the five hole you get different pitches,” McWhorter said.
Hays allowed a couple of hits but not real danger over the next two innings before giving way to Messer. The Jaguars would add two more runs to the lead in the third inning before Messer took the mound.
Weston Griebel led off with a single on a two-strike pitch. Griebel scored on a single by Thompson. Mallory made it a 5-0 game with an RBI single.
In the fourth inning, Austin Rudder singled and scored on a Griebel grounder.
Messer didn’t allow a hit in his three innings of work, but did find himself in a jam in the fifth inning. Messer struck out two batters with a walk sandwiched between. A pair of errors loaded the bases, but a grounder back to Messer ended the inning.
“Other than that, I thought we played a good game against a good team,” McWhorter said of the two errors.
North Laurel wrapped up the scoring in the sixth inning. Griebel was hit by a pitch and Hurley followed with a single. Both scored when Mallory lifted a soft single to right field. The Jaguars finished the night with nine hits and also took advantage of five walks and two hit batters. It was a much different line than the North Laurel pitchers.
“Throw strikes, don’t walk them and give yourself a chance,” McWhorter said.
The Jaguars leave at 5 a.m. Saturday morning to play the Cal Ripkin experience in Myrtle Beach, North Laurel will play five games in five days. The first game will be Saturday night after the long drive.