The Middlesboro Yellow Jackets clinched at least a share of the top seed in the 52nd District with a 5-1 victory at Harlan County on Monday.
Middlesboro sophomore Lucas Crawford turned in a stellar performance on the mound. Crawford recorded four strikeouts, while allowing just one hit in the complete-game victory on the mound.
“He was a consummate pitcher tonight,” Middlesboro coach Bill Powell said. “He’s not overpowering, but he hits every spot, mixed it up and had a lot of confidence. He threw strikes and kept them off balance. I couldn’t be any more pleased with his performance.”
The Jackets took the lead with a run in the second inning.
Chris Short led off the inning with a single. He advanced on a single by Bubba Brock and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Capps.
Middlesboro made it 2-0 with another run in the third inning.
Jake Brock was first to reach base as he was hit by a pitch. He advanced on walks by Thomas Epperson and Timmy Helton before scoring on another walk by John Millett.
The Jackets took control with three runs in the sixth inning.
Tyler Yoakum led off the inning with a hit. Nick Capps then advanced the runner with a sacrifice bunt. Austin Baker drove in pinch runner Bradyn Ball with a single. Jake Brock reached base on an error. Baker and Jake Brock both scored in the inning.
Harlan County got on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the inning.
Senior Braxton Fields led off the inning with a walk. Fields later scored on a throwing error to first base.
Bubba Brock has a double and a single to lead Middlesboro at the plate. Jake Brock contributed a triple. Short recorded a pair of singles. Yoakum had a double, and Baker, Epperson and Epperson and Helton each added a ssingle.
Fields singled for Harlan County’s only hit.
“I thought we had a little more grit than that. I tell you what we did. We talked a big game but we didn’t walk it. We pouted from the first inning to the end of the game. If you don’t hit, you don’t win,” said Harlan County coach John Lewis. “They’ve showed everybody in the region they can hit the ball, but they let things get to them. When you slack up on fundamentals and take it to the plate it will cost you.”
Tyler Cornett struck out a pair of batters and allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings in the loss. Scotty Bailey recorded a pair of strikeouts, while allowing one earned run in 1.2 innings of relief.
Middlesboro (17-5 overall, 5-0 district) returns to action today in the state All ‘A’ Classic sectionals. The Jackets will host Harlan County (18-3, 4-1 ) on Wednesday.
“It’s turned into a nice rivalry, and I didn’t have to get our guys pumped up to play them,” Powell said. “They know it will, hopefully, boil down to us or them for the district. They were focused and ready to play.”
Middlesboro 011 003 0 - 5 9 1
Harlan County 000 001 0 - 1 1 2
Crawford and B. Brock; Cornett, Bailey (6) and Boggs. WP-Crawford (6-0). LP-Cornett (2-1)