With his team in the midst of the worst offensive slump since the early days of the program, Harlan County coach John Lewis was happy to see the Black Bears’ offense finally come alive Tuesday in a 10-1 win over visiting Breathitt County.
“I hope they learned something from jumping on somebody,” Lewis said. “Breathitt is starting a new program with (coach Bryan) Dean, but still it’s good to see your bats get going and your bunts down.”
Harlan County scored eight runs over the first three innings and coasted to the win despite massive substitutions throughout the lineup and on the mound. Caleb Carmical pitched two shutout innings to start the game, then Josh Jordan, Benjamin Lewis, Xavier Simmons, Devin Rodrigues and Cameron Nease pitched one inning each as the six HCHS hurlers limited Breathitt to seven hits.
Junior catcher Brendan Rutherford, the Bears’ leadoff hitter, had a double and single to lead the HCHS offense. Senior third baseman Dylan Cornett, who hits second in the order, added two singles. Rodrigues had a double. Jared Sizemore and T.J. Bryant contributed one single each.
“We talked last year about it being a rebuilding year, but then everyone stepped up,” Lewis said. “We lost four more good players, so this may be the rebuilding year. We’ll see. It’s not so much about winning right now. It’s about learning and getting better. We have just started off slow at the plate.”
Harlan County’s offensive problems weren’t an issues Tuesday as Rutherford opened the game with a double. Courtesy runner Gabe Price took second when Cornett was hit by a pitch and scored on SIzemore’s single. Sean Johnson walked intentionally to load the bases, then was forced out at second on Carmical’s fielder’s choice RBI ground out. Another run scored on an error, and Rodrigues brought in the fourth run of the inning with a double down the left-field line.
The Bears added two more runs in the second inning as Gage Burkhart led off with a walk, moved to second on Cornett’s bunt single and scored on Sizemore’s ground out. Cornett scored when Johnson was safe on an error.
Rodrigues led off the third inning with a bunt back to the mound that turned into a quick run when pitcher Jerry O’Hair made a wild throw to first and then first baseman Cameron Stacy threw the ball past third base. Trey Early walked and scored the eighth run on consecutive hits by Rutherford and Cornett.
Harlan County added two more runs in the fourth inning with the help of three walks and an RBI single by Bryant.
Breathitt broke through for a run in the fifth inning on hits by Emmanuel WIlson, Zach Hall and Kyle Stamper.
Harlan County (3-5) travels to London on Friday to play defending 13th Region champ South Laurel.
Breathitt County 000 010 0 — 1 6 4
Harlan County 422 200 x — 10 7 1
Hall, Stamper (2), O’Hair (2), Stacy (4), Parks (5), Hamilton (6) and Adams: Carmical, Jordan (3), Lewis (4), Simmons (5), Rodrigues (6), Nease (7) and Rutherford, Casolari (5). WP — Jordan (2-0). LP — Hall.
Letcher Central 4, Harlan County 1
Harlan County’s offensive problems continued Monday in a loss at Letcher Central as the Black Bears were limited to five hits by three Letcher Central pitchers.
Dylan Cornett led HCHS with two singles. Jared Sizemore had a double. Tyler Casolari and Brendan Rutherford added singles.
Rutherford suffered the loss on the mound as he gave up three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Gabe Price allowed one run on three hits in two innings on the mound.
Harlan County 100 000 0 — 1 5 4
Letcher Central 020 011 x — 4 8 1
Rutherford, Price (5) and Casolari, Rutherford (5); Mason, Dollarhide (4), Fields (7) and Gibbs. WP — Dollarhide. LP — Rutherford (0-1). Sv — Fields.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134