By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
PRESTONSBURG—The North Laurel 11-year-old All Stars advanced to the state championship game with an 8-7 win over Warren County Southern Thursday. Although the game came down to the wire, North Laurel never trailed.
North Laurel got home runs from Blake Vanhook and Ty Baker as it opened a 4-1 lead after three innings. Starting pitcher Colby Howard had kept Warren County in check as well.
Howard did start to run into trouble with Warren County Southern pushing across a pair of runs in the fourth inning and three in the third. A run in the top of the sixth had Warren County Southern within one run of tying the game. Howard would get relief help from Blaine Miller and Baker to end the rally.
One key for the North Laurel All Stars was hitting with runners on base. After leaving 10 runners stranded two days earlier in an 8-7 win over Prestonsburg, they would leave just three runners stranded Thursday. Warren County Southern left 10 runners stranded.
North Laurel got two hits each from Noah Rogers, Seth McClure, and Miller. Baker, McClure and Vanhook each drove in a pair of runs.
North Laurel 12, Morgan County 0
Cameron Cotton and Coley Kelley combined on a three-hit shutout for a 12-0 win over Morgan County. Cotton struck out the side in the first inning. Cotton pitched the first three innings before giving way to Kelley. Kelley pitched a scoreless inning without allowing a hit.
Colby Howard went 2-for-2 at the plate with a triple and two RBI. North Laurel also got doubles from Noah Rogers and Ty Baker. Rogers drove in a pair of runs. Blaine Miller and Tanner Bowling also drove in runs for North Laurel. North Laurel had just five hits in the game. Morgan County committed five errors and also issued eight walks.
North Laurel jumped ahead with three runs in the first inning and six in the second. A three-run third inning would be enough as they didn’t have to bat in the fourth inning.
Just as important as the runs they scored were the runs they didn’t allow.
North Laurel still needed a little help to advance to Thursday’s final four. North Laurel and Prestonsburg had both allowed the same amount of runs, which was the deciding tie breaker. When Prestonsburg allowed a run Wednesday night it meant North Laurel would advance.