LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The first comment from both sides after North Laurel’s 3-1 win over South Laurel Friday was about Logan Mallory. The Jaguars junior hurler handcuffed a potent South Laurel lineup to even the season series between the two rivals.
“Logan Mallory pitched lights out,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said. “That right there is the best game I have seen him throw.”
It was almost exactly a year ago when Mallory pitched North Laurel to a 6-1 win over Knox Central that McWhorter ranked as his best game until Friday. Against South Laurel, Mallory allowed three hits with six strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
“That guy was lights out tonight. That’s the best I’ve seen him throw. I know I don’t see him on an everyday basis, but he threw a whale of a game,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “If he can do that, they are a tough team to handle.”
Mallory didn’t allow a base runner until the fifth inning. All three of South Laurel’s hits and their only base runners came in the fifth inning.
“He had that one little hiccup in the fifth inning and then he was just on top of it,” McWhorter said. “Even that inning, they had some runners on and could have done something. He regrouped and just gave up one.”
South Laurel starter Trey Martin first ran into trouble in the second inning. With runners on first and third with one out, he fanned the next two batters to end the threat.
Neither team could manage another base runner until Zach Hurley led off the fourth inning with an infield single. Mallory singled up the middle to drive in the game’s first run.
“We pitched and played defense. We only gave up three runs tonight. It’s not like it was a blowout,” Harris said.
South Laurel tied the game in the fifth and caused enough concern that McWhorter had pitchers warming up. He wouldn’t need them.
Zach Allen led off with a double into the left centerfield gap. Brennan Miller singled home Allen with one out. Braden Miller followed with a single.
“When he started missing up I thought is he going to regroup right here,” McWhorter said.
A fly ball and a groundout would end the threat. South Laurel’s next six batters were retired in order, including Mallory striking out the side in the seventh inning.
“We didn’t make an adjustment and he kept keeping us off balance. He was going to attack our top six guys and he did a great job of that,” Harris said.
The top three hitters in the Cardinals lineup were a combined 0-9. McWhorter gave credit to Mallory and to pitching coach Jackie Robinson.
“(Robinson) called a good game and Logan threw a good game because the top of their order is extremely dangerous,” McWhorter said.
North Laurel took the lead in the fifth inning. Jack Capobianco led off with a single. Ethan Maxey and Cole Lewis stroked back-to-back doubles to each drive in a run and make it a 3-1 game. When Hurley singled there were runners on first and third with one out. The Jaguars would have one runner picked off and another thrown out at the plate.
“We missed some opportunities to score a few more runs and we left a guy (Austin Thompson) that had been hitting the ball hard all night standing at the plate,” McWhorter said.
The three runs would be plenty the way Mallory was throwing.
“That last pitch he threw was probably as hard as any pitch he threw all night,” McWhorter said.
The loss was just the third of the season for South Laurel. The Cardinals have not been shutout this season. They have been held to one run three times, which is each of their losses.
“I think the thing with us was we didn’t put the ball in play enough,” Harris said. “During the past week, week and a half has been unusual for us. We hit too many balls in the air. We had nine fly ball outs and that’s just not us.”
If the two teams meet again it will have to be in the region tournament.
“We have to focus on the district. That is a big town game, but it’s not in the scheme of things for us,” Harris said.