By Chris Parsons
MIDDLESBORO — The North Laurel 9-10 year-old All Stars had a tough row to hoe coming in to Monday’s showdown with Hazard/Perry, needing back-to-back wins to advance to the state tournament.
Hazard/Perry jumped ahead with a pair of runs in the first inning and never looked back, cruising to a 12-2 win in four innings.
Despite the loss, North Laurel head coach Chris Edwards said he was proud of the team’s effort, but admitted that days like Monday will take a toll on any team.
“You play enough baseball and there will be days like this and we just happened to have two bad days against them,” Edwards said. “That’s a really good team over there (Hazard/Perry) and I think they’ll represent our district well in the state tournament I’m sure.
“I hate for it to end like this that’s for sure, but I’m proud of our kid’s effort,” he added.
After North Laurel went down on three straight strikeouts to start the first inning, Middlesboro took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a double and a pair of passed balls.
North Laurel’s Deaton Rush cut the gap in half with a leadoff home run to start the second inning, but that’s as close as his team would get in the game. Hazard/Perry added four runs in the bottom of the second inning on home runs by Wyatt Hensley and Mason Matthews, pushing the lead to 6-1 at the end of the second inning.
North Laurel added a run in the top of the third when Gavin Hurst drew a walk to start the inning and came around to score on an RBI double by Reed Sheppard, making the score 6-2.
The first four Hazard/Perry hitters reached base to start the fourth inning, setting up a disastrous inning for North Laurel. After three doubles, a passed ball and a fielding error, Hazard/Perry’s Max Johnson came around to give his team the 12-2 win in four innings.
With a few years left to play Little League baseball, Edwards said he wasn’t sure if his kids could learn anything from the 10-run loss, but he’s confident that North Laurel’s squad will improve and be in contention again as time passes.
“I don’t know what they’ll learn from a game like this because we made some mistakes,” Edwards said. “This is a good group of kids and this is a good group of parents with these kids, so they’ve got a lot of potential
“There’s some pitching, there’s some hitting here and it’s an overall good team,” he added. “These guys will bounce back and they’ll be okay.”
By Chris Parsons
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