It took almost six innings, but the Harlan County offense finally came alive Friday as the Bears pulled away for an 11-1 win over Leslie County in the opening game of the Black Bears Classic
The Bears were shut out in a 1-0 eight-inning loss Thursday at Corbin and were held to four runs by Leslie County before exploding for seven in the sixth to win 11-1 via the 10-run mercy rule.
“I have some real good boys. They really hate to fail their teammates and think they should get a hit every time,” Harlan County coach John Lewis said. “I try to tell them that even Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter only get a hit three out of 10 times.”
Harlan County batted around in the sixth inning, going through three Leslie County pitchers to end the game. Chance Brown, a junior outfielder, led off with a double. Blake Rutherford drew a walk to knock out Troy Woods. Dillon Muncy retired Scotty Bailey before surrendering a two-run single to Sawyer Fields and an RBI double to Zach Doss as the HCHS lead grew to 7-1. Muncy walked Anthony Jenkins and got Gage Burkhart to hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but the third out never came. Nick Jarvis doubled in two runs and Connor Leisge singled in one run. After Brown was hit by a pitch, Leslie County coach Russ Melton replaced Muncy with Dalton Spurlock. Rutherford ended the game with a single to center.
“I was glad to see us finally hit the ball and put them away,” Lewis said. “Leslie is real young this year and they have struggled early in the season.”
Bailey, Brown, Doss and Jarvis each had doubles for the Bears. Fields, Jenkins, Burkhart and Leisge added singles.
Freshman lefthander Jared Sizemore earned his third win in three decisions as he limited the Eagles to one run on one hit in five innings with nine strikeouts and a walk. Fields allowed only one walk in an inning to earn the save.
“Jared was working on his velocity today, and he did OK,” Lewis said. “Sawyer came in and gave us a good inning.”
Leslie (0-5) scored first on an RBI single by center fielder Seth Melton in the third inning.
Rutherford and Bailey drew walks to open the bottom of the third. A ground out by Doss drove in one run and Jenkins’ two-out single put the Bears ahead to stay. Another run scored on an errant throw by catcher Brady Crisp on a steal Burkhart.
Rutherford walked in the fourth inning and scored on Bailey’s two-out double to the fence in left field.
The Black Bears Classic will continue Saturday with Lincoln County playing Wise Central, Va., at noon, followed by Harlan County and Lincoln County at 2:30 and Harlan County against Wise at 5.
Leslie County001000 — 11 2
Harlan County 003107 — 11 8 2
Davidson, Woods (4), Muncy (6), Spurlock (6) and Crisp; Sizemore, Fields and Jarvis. WP — Sizemore (3-0). LP — Davidson. Sv — Fields (1).