TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
PRESTONSBURG — After a pair of rainy-day washouts Sunday and Monday, the Knox County Little League All Stars continued their quest for a state title with a 10-0 win over Morgan County Tuesday.
The win guarantees Knox County a spot in the state semifinals Thursday. The only thing to be decided by today's game is whether they go in as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
Caleb Powers, Thomas Jackson and Payton Payne combined for a four-inning no-hitter, allowing just one baserunner on a Knox County error. Jackson led the way with five strikeouts, while Payne added three and Powers struck out two batters.
After the win, Knox County coach Scott Payne credited his players for the lopsided win, but said he cautioned them not to let up just because they've secured a semifinal berth.
“I told the kids after the game that we can't afford to let up and go into the semifinals on a down note,” Payne said. “It's important that we continue to play well and carry as much momentum as we can with us as we move on.
“This was a good win for us overall against a team we really didn't know anything about,” he added. “We combined to hold them to no hits, so any time you do that in a state tournament game, it’s a pretty good accomplishment.”
Offensively it was Payne and Tucker Holland leading the way for Knox County. Holland was 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and four RBIs. Payne was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Bailey Lundy added a pair of hits and an RBI in the win.
Knox County pounded out four hits in the bottom of the second, which led to a 4-0 lead by the time the inning was over.
All was quiet until Holland stretched the lead with a three-run triple in the bottom of the fourth to put his team on top 8-0. Payne singled to make the score 9-0 and Lundy closed out the game with an RBI single to put the mercy rule in effect.
With his team playing well, Payne is still cautious with how he approaches each game. He said the overall level of play is a lot better than he has seen in recent years at the state tournament level.
“I knew coming in that playing at the 12-year-old level would be a whole different game,” Payne said. “At the 11-year-old level you have a lot of the better kids playing for the 12s, so that makes the 12-year-old teams that much better.
“There's been some really good baseball teams up here this week and it's going to be a battle whoever we face moving forward,” he added. “We've got good kids too though and we'll have them ready to play when the time comes.”
Knox County will be back in action today when they face Morehead at 9 p.m.