By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
CORBIN — What a difference a day makes.
Knox County’s Little League All Stars came away from Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Hazard/Perry with their heads hanging, but Monday’s game between the same two teams was an entirely different story.
Knox County used a four-run third inning to grab a lead they never relinquished as they picked up a 7-2 win in the Area 4 finals, advancing the team to the Little League State Tournament.
After Monday’s win, Knox County coach Scott Payne said some people may have doubted his team after Sunday’s loss, but he wasn’t one of them.
“These kids were crushed after Sunday’s loss, but I had all the faith in the world in them coming into this game,” Payne said. “I’ve doubted these guys before and they’ve proven me wrong, so I kind of learned my lesson about that.
“I told them coming in that they didn’t have to prove anything to anybody but themselves,” he added. “They came out here and proved what they were made of today and now they get to go back to the state tournament.”
Thomas Jackson got the start for Knox County and he didn’t disappoint. Jackson allowed two runs on four hits through 3 2/3 innings, striking out six in the process. Peyton Payne took over with two outs in the fourth inning and closed things out by striking out five of the nine batters he faced. Payne gave up two hits, but was never in any danger on the mound.
Knox County’s offense came via the trio of Payne, Caleb Powers and Tucker Holland, who combined to go 6-for-9 with four RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Trey Owens added the other RBI for Knox County in a 1-for-3 effort, while leadoff hitter Jaylen Adams scored two runs in the game.
Knox County will now move on to the state tournament, which will be played in Prestonsburg from July 20-25. Knox County will be in action Saturday at 1 p.m. as they face Franklin/Simpson in the opening game of pool play. Also in Knox County’s pool are Morehead and Morgan County.