By Mitch Howard For the Times-Tribune
PRESTONSBURG—It’s hard to convince 11-year-olds that everything happens for a reason. That became the task for North Laurel 11-year-old All Stars coach Jason VanHook after his team fell to Campbellsville 7-5 in Friday’s championship game.
“I told them when we all circled up here; sometimes it’s just not your day. God does stuff for a reason. We might not know what it is in this lifetime, but today happened for a purpose,” VanHook said.
Then there are questions he also must answer, like why an umpire would call out a runner for leaving early on a controversial appeal. It could have been a one-run game in the fifth inning, but after a mild protest North Laurel had to accept the call.
“We practice it and practice it and practice it. The kids don’t watch the ball. All they go off of is the third base coach. When he says go, they go,” Vanhook said.
And even with that it appeared North Laurel still had magic. When Seth McClure squared up a pitch with two outs in the sixth inning it had the look of a walk-off three-run homer. When the ball was caught, the Campbellsville dugout exploded and McClure dropped like he had been shot.
“When it first left the bat, I thought it was gone,” Vanhook said. “The kid made a heck of a catch in left field.”
Although the end would be bitter, the game could not have started much better for North Laurel. A perfect throw from the outfield to second base by Ty Baker in the top of the first erased a base runner and gave North Laurel a quick boost. In the bottom of the inning, Blake Vanhook singled and scored on a single by McClure. Both hitters jumped on the first pitch.
Two more runs scored in the second. Cole Kelley doubled with one out and Bryson Brock followed with a single. Kelley scored on a groundout by Baker. An error allowed Brock to trot home.
The first sign of trouble for North Laurel came in the third when Blaine Miller gave up the first three Campbellsville hits. Two runs scored on a double by Hunter Maupin to make it a 3-2 game.
“We came out rolling and thought we had the momentum. I think probably about the third inning when they scored two on a long shot to left center, you kind of start to see the momentum change,” Vanhook said.
In the fourth inning, Miller got relief help from Baker and Kelley. The trio combined for three walks and a hit batter. That set the table for three hits to lead to five runs as Campbellsville jumped ahead 7-3.
“We had a little trouble locating on a few pitches, but you have to give them credit. We played a heck of a ballgame and they just hit it. They hit it and we hit it and it was just one of those games,” VanHook said.
North Laurel clawed back in the fifth inning. Howard and McClure singled. Miller reached on an error that allowed Howard to score. One out later, Kelley would reach on a fielder’s choice with McClure scoring on a throwing error. Next came the fly ball that led to the crucial appeal at third.
The sixth inning opened with Baker drawing a walk. The next two batters were retired, but Campbellsville starter Dawson Cole reached his pitch limit. Reliever Maupin was greeted with a hard grounder to short by Howard that was misplayed. McClure’s deep drive appeared likely to at least tie the game if not win it. Left fielder John Orberson tracked it quickly and made a running catch for the final out.
“If nothing else, this will make us stronger,” VanHook said.
Knox County All-Stars capture second straight state championship with 5-3 win
By Mitch Howard For the Times-Tribune
- Local Sports
Tripped Up: Tough loss follows Saturday's walk-off win
By Chris Parsons
BOWLING GREEN — The Corbin Little League All Stars began the 2014 State Tournament with as exciting a finish as any baseball fan could hope for, but struggled on day two, falling to 1-1 after the first two days.
Comeback Effort: Knox County recovers from 24-0 loss, grabs 4-2 win in pool play
By Chris Parsons
BOWLING GREEN — After what could have turned in to a demoralizing 24-0 loss to Eastern to start State Tournament pool play Saturday, the Knox County 11-year-old All Stars recovered nicely Sunday, picking up a 4-2 win over Paintsville.
Ready To Roll
After a 6-0 run through the loser’s bracket of the District 4 Tournament, the only thing left for the Corbin Little League All Stars to do is pack their bags and get to Bowling Green.
For many years, Chris Larkey’s North Laurel Jaguar football program has been known for its running attack, but with the way things went during the Union College 7-on-7 Passing Tournament, the Jaguars may be shedding the “ground game” label.
LIKE IT OR NOT: MLB's All Star effort was a bust
With the 85th edition of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in the books, I have to say I feel like the whole thing was a complete bust.
Eyes On The Prize
The Knox County 11-year-old All-Stars have a tall task ahead of them, but head coach Jason Hembree said he feels like the team will be ready to go when the state tournament starts Saturday in Bowling Green.
First-year coach Jason Chappell isn’t any stranger when it comes to challenges. He helped guide the South Laurel Cardinal football program to a couple of playoff appearances after seeing his South Laurel squad win only three games during his first year as Cardinal coach.
THE WAY IT IS: Some local teams can make a run
Well folks, our Little League All-Star action is beginning to wind down, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see two of the Tri-County’s resp
- Smashing Win
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- Tripped Up: Tough loss follows Saturday's walk-off win