Battling through his most inconsistent performance on the mound this season, Jared Sizemore rescued the Harlan County Black Bears with his bat on Tuesday in a district clash at Harlan.
The Bears trailed 2-0 entering the seventh inning when Sizemore came through with a two-run single to tie the game. Gage Burkhart’s sacrifice bunt brought in the go-ahead run as HCHS rallied for a 3-2 win.
“He redeemed himself a little bit,” Harlan County coach John Lewis said. “Jared’s body language wasn’t good. He let a hit by the first batter of the game bother him, a little dribbler to short. You can’t do that as a pitcher, especially a top-notch pitcher. Everybody you play is coming after you. Harlan played well enough to win the game.”
Sizemore (3-0) gave up two runs on five hits, striking out nine and walking five. Caleb Carmical came in to record the final out and pick up a save after Sizemore reached the 120-pitch limit.
The Bears won despite a strong effort on the mound from senior righthander Caleb Hogue, who held HCHS hitless through four innings before finishing with a five-hitter. He struck out four and walked four.
“Caleb had us no hit until the fifth inning,” Lewis said. “He pitched well.”
“It was a great game,” Harlan coach Robbie Burns said. “Caleb pitched a heck of a game, and so did Jared. I thought we played well and did as good as anybody against Jared.
“I’m not satisfied because we should have won the game, but they hit the ball. They hit when they were supposed to, and we didn’t. I was proud of the bottom of the lineup. We battled hard. I think we’ll come back Thursday (at HCHS) and hit the ball better.”
Hogue had three of the Dragons’ five hits, reaching base in all four plate appearances as he also walked. Andrew Saylor and Pedro Roman added one single each.
Sizemore, Brendan Rutherford, Cameron Nease, Will Scott and Gabe Price had singles for a Harlan County offense that was held scoreless until several of the Bears’ younger players stepped up with the game on the line.
Scott, a sophomore first baseman, opened the inning with a sharp single to left. Price, a freshman who came up as a pinch-hitter, followed with a one-out single. Courtesy runner Garry Henson, also a freshman, hustled over to third base on the hit. Rutherford was hit by a pitch to load the bases and set up Sizemore’s tying single to right. Burkhart’s bunt put the Bears ahead to stay as courtesy runner Matthew Simpson came in to score on the sacrifice.
“Some of those young guys will be playing more,” Lewis said. “These guys understand that if they aren’t hitting, someone else will get a chance. I was probably a little late on that, but we couldn’t make it through the lineup. Caleb had one inning with seven pitches. I was a little late getting them in, but they will be in there Thursday.”
Harlan missed a scoring opportunity in the first inning as Hogue singled past shortstop Sean Johnson and Saylor singled off Sizemore’s glove. A walk to Nick Jarvis loaded the bases. Rutherford fielded Austin Wilson’s bunt and hit the base runner in the back. The home plate umpire called interference on Wilson for running inside the base line and sent Hogue back to third. Sizemore struck out Kilian Ledford to end the threat.
Sizemore wasn’t as fortunate in the second inning after walking Brendan Miller and Antonio Roman, the eight and nine hitters in the lineup. Hogue’s single to center loaded the bases again with one out. Busroe brought in the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop.
Harlan County (7-7) finally threatened in the fifth inning after Nease led off with a single and Caleb Carmical was hit by a pitch. Rutherford ripped a two-run single to Ledford in left, and he cut down Carmical at the plate on a nice catch and tag by Jarvis.
“If I had the situation 10 times in a row, I’m sending Caleb Carmical from second base,” Lewis said. “It took a perfect throw from Ledford to get him.”
Harlan (10-6) threatened in the bottom of the seventh as Hogue led off with a single before Sizemore struck out Noah Busroe and Saylor to end his night on the mound. Carmical walked Jarvis to put the go-ahead run on base, but then struck out Wilson to end the game.
The teams play again Thursday at Harlan County.
Harlan County* 000* 000* 3* — 3 5 1
Harlan* 010* 010* 0* — 2 5 1
Sizemore and Rutherford; Hogue and Jarvis. WP — Sizemore (3-0). LP — Hogue (2-2). Sv — Carmical (1).
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134