By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
LEXINGTON— What was supposed to be a home game for North Laurel turned into a road trip to Whitaker Bank Ballpark. The home of the minor league Lexington Legends had an open date for a high school game and North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter claimed it.
“The reason I wanted to go back was because it was so miserable the first time. It was 30 degrees and the kids were all freezing to death. I didn’t feel like they got the full effect,” McWhorter said.
In March the Jaguars lost to Johnson Central 8-5. The second appearance at Whitaker Park would be a much more successful 5-1 win.
Then there is also the fact that the baseball state tournament is played on the same field and all the success and experience can pay dividends.
“You never know,” McWhorter said.
What the Jaguars got the second time around was textbook baseball. Logan Mallory tossed a one-hitter, the defense played error free, and Marcus Carson caused havoc when he got on base.
Mallory struck out seven and allowed only an unearned run against a Colonels team on a seven-game winning streak. Whitley County averaged more than 10 runs per game during the streak.
“Logan threw a great game He’s been very solid his last three or four outings,” McWhorter said.
Whitley County also got a solid performance from starter Alex Rose. Rose allowed just four hits and three of the runs he allowed came on a late error.
“He was hard thrower. He was throwing 83. He can beat people in this region. He’s the hardest thrower we’ve seen in the last little bit,” McWhorter said.
It was probably the hardest thrower North Laurel has seen since its spring break trip to South Carolina.
“We get back here and we’ve seen a lot of slower stuff. It made this kid seem a whole lot faster. I’m glad we got to see him,” McWhorter said.
The Jaguars did get started early with a leadoff hit from Carson. Carson, who will call Lexington home next year as a UK signee, stole second to get in scoring position. Ethan Maxey fell behind 0-2 before driving in Carson with a hit.
Whitley County tied the score in the top of the fifth inning. The Jaguars bounced back in the bottom of the fifth with Zach Hurley driving in the go-ahead run with a triple.
The Colonels gifted North Laurel with three runs in the sixth inning. Carson was walked intentionally to load the bases. That brought up Weston Griebel, who drove a fly ball to left field. The Whitley County outfielder parked under the fly ball for the final out, but it kicked off the heel of the glove with three runs scoring.
The Jaguars have a challenging week ahead with their next five games on the road. They will be traveling to Scott County this weekend, where they will face the home team along with Ryle, and Owen County.
“It’s going to be a tough. Scott County has one of the better records in 11th Region. Ryle is ranked in the top 10 and Owen County has a record about like us,” McWhorter said.