By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
MANCHESTER —One player can’t beat another team, but it almost seemed like Marcus Carson could in North Laurel’s 12-3 win over Clay County Thursday.
Carson accounted for nine runs by scoring five runs and also driving in four. His big day at the plate included two home runs, a triple, a double, and an intentional walk.
Carson led off the game with a home run. It was the fifth home run of the year for the Jaguars senior outfielder with three of those coming in two games against Clay County.
“It just depends on how people are pitching to him. The first pitch of the game (the pitcher) just missed up with the ball and he drove it out,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said. “If they are pitching him away he will go opposite field. He has a lot of opposite field hits.”
The Jaguars made it 4-0 in the top of the second with Carson ripping an RBI triple after a run-scoring single by Cole Lewis. Carson scored when Ethan Maxey reached on an error with two outs.
Clay County (16-14) did their only damage against North Laurel (16-10) starter Logan Mallory in the bottom of the second inning. Three runs cut the North Laurel lead to 4-3. Nathaniel Huff was hit by a pitch and would score on a groundout. Dylan Garrison singled, followed by a walk to Dustin Goss. Both runners scored on a single by Jordan White.
Mallory allowed five hits on the night with four strikeouts before giving way to, who else, Carson. Carson threw to six hitters and struck out four.
“(Mallory) didn’t have his best stuff, but he threw well. He’s been throwing complete games his last three or four outings, but he got tired,” McWhorter said. “We had a lead and could have stuck with him, but just to give him some rest because he leads the team in innings pitched.”
Carson led off the fourth inning with another home run. Weston Griebel and Maxey followed with singles. Mallory drove in one run with a single. Maxey scored when Austin Rudder reached on an error.
“Our kids made plays. We put the ball in play and Clay County made a few errors. We just kept hitting,” McWhorter said.
In the fifth inning, Carson walked and scored when Maxey again reached on an error. Zach Hurley would rip a two-run homer later in the inning. North Laurel added two runs in the sixth, including an RBI double by Carson.
Tyler Allen started for the Tigers. Allen is the No. 2 pitcher in the Clay County rotation behind Tanner Hoskins. Hoskins pitched Clay County to a 3-2 win over North Laurel in their first meeting this season.
“It’s a good win going late in the season. You want them to have confidence, especially going into the district tournament,” McWhorter said.
Dates and times have been set for the 49th District Tournament at North Laurel. Both softball and baseball championship will be held May 20. North Laurel will play Jackson County at 5:30 p.m. with Clay County awaiting the winner.
North Laurel has six games remaining in the regular season. The Jaguars were scheduled to play at Williamsburg Friday, Somerset on Saturday, and Bell County tonight. The final three games are at home, including Tuesday against Barbourville.