The Dragons slipped past Pike Central with a 3-2 victory early Saturday afternoon at the East Kentucky Invitation at Knott Central, but the Hawks came back to claim an 8-6 victory in the tournament's championship game.
In the first game, freshman pitcher John Smith (2-0) had his second consecutive impressive outing, striking out 10 with no walks in a three-hitter.
Smith, Randy Blakley, Josh Howard, Logan Curry and Kevin Harris each contributed a single as the Dragons tacked on all three of their runs in the first inning.
Jay Williamson took the loss for Pike Central and was also the team's leading hitter, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Both of the Hawks' runs were unearned as the Dragons committed two errors in the fourth inning.
Harlan moved into the nightcap as the only undefeated team in the tournament's round-robin pool, and Pike Central had the second-best record.
Howard came out from behind the plate to pitch for the Dragons. He struck out six and walked three in five innings of work, but four Harlan errors allowed the Hawks to score four unearned runs and stick Howard (0-1) with the loss.
Preston Jones and Jon Graham each pitched an inning in relief for the Dragons.
Jared Meadors went 3-for-4 to lead Harlan, and Shea Moody added two singles. Howard tripled and Blakley and Curry each added a double. Harris and Smith each singled.
Harlan nearly came back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh. The Dragons had the tying run on second when the game ended.
The Dragons left nine men on base, due in part to some stellar defensive plays by the Hawks.
Harlan, which finished 5-21 last year, already has four wins in the first week of this season. Evans said the feat is made even more impressive by the level of talent the Dragons have been facing.
"We started the season with a difficult schedule. We've competed with some of the best teams in eastern Kentucky," he said.
"They gave a tremendous effort, even in the game we lost. I couldn't fault their effort."
Harlan (4-1) returns to action Tuesday at Fleming-Neon.
Pike Cent. 000 200 0 2 3 0
Harlan 300 000 0 3 5 2
Smith and Howard; Williamson and Chaney. WSmith (2-0). LWilliamson.
Pike Cent. 004 002 2 8 13 0
Harlan 000 120 3 6 11 4
Howard, Jones (6), Graham (7) and S. Harris, Howard (6). WCharles. LHoward (0-1).