By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel couldn’t overcome early errors or an 8-0 hole as Somerset held on for a 9-5 win Friday. It was the second straight night the Jaguars (1-2) were hurt by their gloves.
“It’s the same thing we did last night. We made seven errors last night against Johnson Central. We got beat 8-5 and left the bases loaded twice,” North Laurel coach Darren McWhorter said.
The errors overshadowed what McWhorter felt was a solid effort by a couple of young pitchers. Freshman Ray Hays and eighth grader Weston Griebel were both seeing their first varsity action.
“Ray Hays was pitching. They were hitting ground balls and that’s what you want them to do,” McWhorter said. “They were hitting ground balls and we were booting ground balls.”
Griebel came on in relief and his first appearance was under adversity.
“He came in with the bases loaded and got us out of a jam. Both of those guys were very encouraging what they done. They are out there throwing strikes,” McWhorter said.
The North Laurel defense might be a little rusty due to the weather keeping them off the field most of the preseason. McWhorter said he did hit them five buckets of balls prior to the game with everything fielded smoothly. More likely the cause could be nerves from an infield with no varsity experience.
“It will fix itself. It will work itself out,” McWhorter said. “I like this team. I’ve got confidence in this team.”
Somerset pushed an unearned run across in the first inning when Charlie Dishman walked and scored on an error. They struck for five runs in the second inning on four hits and a pair of errors. The big hit was a double by Will Hislope.
The Briar Jumpers made it 7-0 in the third inning. Haden Fox was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and scored on a single by Heath Ehrsam. Jacob Pelsom was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning and scored on a Will Lange single.
The Jaguars finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Cole Lewis led off with a single and scored on a single by Austin Rudder. After a walk to Marcus Carson, the Briar Jumpers threw away an Ethan Maxey’s grounder with two runs scoring on the error.
“You get some guys on, get a big hit, and then you are right back in it,” McWhorter said.
Somerset put together three singles in the sixth inning with Dishman scoring to make it 9-3.
The Jaguars tagged on two more runs in the sixth. Austin Thompson led off with a single. Lewis followed with his third single to cap a 3-for-3 night.
“He wore it out. He had been hitting second and we moved him down the lineup hoping he would see some better pitches. That’s exactly what I hoped would happen,” McWhorter said.
Jake McWhorter ripped a double to right centerfield to make it a 9-5 game.
“I was glad to see that. He’s got some pop in his bat and finally caught a gap,” McWhorter said.
McWhorter said this is what he expects from a young team that won’t start to see a set lineup until they are about 10 games into the season. The first weeks of the season are trial and error.
“I saw a lot of positive things. This is a work in progress. We’re trying to figure things out ourselves,” McWhorter said. “You can’t get too high when you win that first game against Bell County. You can’t get too low when you lose to Somerset and Johnson Central.”
North Laurel was scheduled to play at Middlesboro Saturday and host Pulaski County tonight.