HAZARD — The North Laurel 9-10 year-old All-Stars won their opening round game of the District 4 Tournament on Saturday after eliminating Tri-City with a 12-1 win in five innings.
Charlie Houchens’ squad built an 8-0 lead during the first three innings before seeing inclement weather delay the contest for more than 30 minutes.
But once the game restarted, North Laurel was able to put the game away behind solid hitting and pitching.
Houchens’ squad collected 10 hits, led by Kip Allen with three singles and two RBI. Brennan Larkey and Tate Marcum each added two singles. Colter Elza, Cooper Parman and Micah Sizemore added one single each.
Tanner Houchens, Elza and Will Sutton combined to toss a one-hitter. Houchens walked two and recorded two outs. Elza pitched 1 2/3 innings, giving up one hit and one walk with one strikeout. Sutton pitched 2 2/3 shut out innings with one strikeout and one walk.
“Kip Allen, Tate Marcum, and Brennon Larkey had a good day at the plate,” Houchens said. “As a team, I’m happy we put it in play, but I think we can hit a lot better.
“These tournaments are a challenge with pitching limits, but everyone on our team has pitched during league ball,” he added. “We’re fortunate to have about three to four arms that should put us in a good position to compete with anyone. Today our pitchers, other than about five batters faced, were really efficient. Will Sutton gave us some good innings, too.”
North Laurel managed to take control of the game by scoring two runs in the first inning, and never looked back.
Elza was hit by a pitch to open the game and Allen followed with a one-out single. Parman singled in one run and Larkey brought in another with a sacrifice fly.
Keaton Smith walked and Marcum laid down a bunt to open the second inning. Both runners scored on wild pitches to push the lead to 4-0.
Houchens’ squad broke the game open with four runs in the third inning as Sizemore, Marcum and Elza each had RBI singles. Another run scored on an error.
“It’s always nice to get an early lead,” Houchens said. “It helps our kids relax and just focus on playing ball.”
North Laurel led 8-0 after three innings of play, but wasn’t finished.
Allen walked in the fourth inning and scored on a wild pitch for a 9-0 lead.
Smith walked, Elza was hit by a pitch, and Houchens walked to open the fifth inning. Allen singled home two runs. Parman’s ground out brought in the final run for North Laurel.
Houchens’ squad was scheduled to be back in action Sunday at 2 p.m. against Hazard-Perry.
With his team in the loser’s bracket after suffering a loss in last week’s Area 2 Tournament, Houchens admitted his team still has a tough road ahead.
“We’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us,” he said. “There’s some really solid clubs ahead of us. If we play our best baseball that we can play, we should have a chance.”