By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
LEXINGTON—North Laurel shook off two tough losses with a 10-3 win over Bryan Station Saturday. The Jaguars dropped a 6-5 heartbreaker to South Oldham earlier on Saturday and a 3-2 decision to Clay County Friday. Timely hitting would be the difference against Bryan Station.
“We have to learn to get the runners in. You have to step up and get hits. We did it in the (Bryan Station) game,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
North Laurel plated nine of the 13 runners that were in scoring position against Bryan Station after leaving eight runners stranded against South Oldham. The Jaguars also left eight runners on base in the loss to Clay County.
“We have to be more consistent. We’re doing it every now and then, leaving runners on, and it’s been costing us big time,” McWhorter said.
One change that worked for North Laurel was moving a hot Weston Griebel to No. 2 in the order and moving Cole Lewis to the No. 9 slot.
“This is the first game we’ve done that lineup. You try to put guys lower in the lineup to get them some better pitches. They get more fastballs when they are down in the lineup and Weston has been hitting the ball really well,” McWhorter said.
Griebel, who entered the weekend hitting over .400, reached base twice and drove in a run. Lewis scorched two balls that were misplayed for errors. He also dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt.
The Jaguars jumped on Bryan Station fast. It was a relief to McWhorter who felt his team might still be feeling the effects of the loss to South Oldham, a game they led by three runs going into the last inning.
“I was worried to death we were going to come out flat after losing one like that,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel loaded the bases with the first three hitters. Marcus Carson singled, followed by a walk to Griebel and an error allowing Ethan Maxey to reach. Grounders by Zach Hurley and Austin Thompson drove in two runs. Logan Mallory made it a 3-0 game with a two-out single.
Bryan Station managed one unearned run off Hurley in the bottom of the inning. Hurley allowed just six hits and one earned run in tossing a complete game.
“I thought Zach pitched a good game. Our hitters battled at the plate and we made plays when they put it in play,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel made it 4-1 with a run in the third inning. Maxey reached on an error. After a Hurley single, Maxey scored on a fly ball by Mallory.
Bryan Station scored a pair of runs in the third inning on just one hit as they pulled back to within 4-3. North Laurel answered with a big fourth inning. The five–run inning included a two-run singles by Maxey and Thompson. Jake McWhorter singled to lead off the seventh and scored on an error for the 10-3 final.
“That’s a good win. Any time you can come up to Lexington and get a win that’s an encouraging thing,” McWhorter said.
It was much more encouraging than the preceding 6-5 loss to South Oldham. North Laurel led South Oldham 5-0. A three-run first inning included a two-run single by Mallory. A two-out, two-run double by Hurley in the second inning made it 5-0.
Griebel was breezing along on the mound before giving up a run in the fifth inning. He pitched into the seventh.
“Weston Griebel threw lights out for six innings. Then he got up in his pitch count and we took him out,” McWhorter said.
South Oldham scored five runs in the seventh inning on just two hits. North Laurel didn’t help themselves with a pair of errors, but McWhorter didn’t think his team got any breaks either with the four walks allowed.
“I thought we got squeezed a little bit. I thought Austin threw strike three to strike the guy and it was ball four. It had been a strike all day long,” McWhorter said. “It’s just something you have to learn to deal with.”