You can be sure that the Harlan County Black Bears did not want to spend another day around coach John Lewis after a loss to Harlan.
Harlan County suffered the first loss in school history to the Dragons on Monday and the Black Bears spent their evening with a rare after-game practice. The Black Bears erased some of the bad memories of that 1-0 defeat with a 9-0 victory Tuesday at Harlan County.
“I thought we overlooked them yesterday, and you can’t do that. I think that game might have brought them back to Earth,” Lewis said. “We knew we had clinched the No. 1 seed, and sometimes it’s hard for kids to get up for a game, but that’s no excuse and you have to give Harlan credit. They came to play and they made the plays.”
Limited to one hit the night before by Austin Miller, Harlan County collected 10 hits against Caleb Hogue. Senior third baseman Anthony Jenkins led the Bears with a double and two singles. Tyler Cornett added a pair of singles. Blake Rutherford had a double. Scotty Bailey, Connor Leisge, Chance Brown and Cole WIlson added one single each.
Leisge, a senior right-hander, was his usual overpowering self on the mound, cruising through five innings with a two-hitter that only saw him throw 49 pitches in a five-strikeout, no-walk performance. Freshman lefthander Jared Sizemore gave up only one hit in two innings with five strikeouts and no walks.
“Leisge is the best pitcher in the region, and I thought we came out flat,” Harlan coach Robbie Burns said. “We didn’t put the bat on the ball and made some errors that hurt us, but I’m still proud of the boys. They have been playing well.”
Harlan County broke an eight-inning scoring drought in the second. Brendan Rutherford opened the inning by reaching on an error on a hard hit ball to second base. Cole Wilson was safe on an error when catcher Andrew Saylor missed the third strike. Blake Rutherford brought in courtesy runner Hunter Nease with a sacrifice fly. Leisge added a two-out RBI single, but the Bears missed a third run when the runners held up to see if the ball would drop.
A bases-clearing double in the fourth inning gave the Bears and Leisge some breathing room. Cornett and Jenkins had one-out singles in the inning and Brown was safe on an error to load the bases.
Zach Doss and Leisge drew walks against a tiring Hogue in the fifth inning. Cornett singled home one run for an 8-0 lead. After Jenkins’ single loaded the bases, Brown closed the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
Jacob Clark came in to pitch the final inning for the Dragons and retired the side in order.
Cory Chorak, Ben Abraham and Jacob Hensley each had singles for the Dragons.
Harlan County (14-8 overall, 5-1 district) plays at WIse Central, Va., on Thursday. Harlan (12-9 overall, 1-5 district) travels to Buckhorn on Saturday.
Harlan000 000 0 — 0 3 4
Harlan County023 290 x — 9 10 0
Hogue, Clark (6) and Saylor; Leisge, Sizemore (6) and Brendan Rutherford, Jarvis (6). WP — Leisge (4-1). LP — Hogue (1-3).