By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
When Knox County 11-12-year-old All-Star coach Scott Payne is asked about the secret of his team’s success during the Area 2, District 4 and state tournaments, he’s quick to point out his deep pitching staff and solid defensive play.
And the numbers don’t lie.
In 11 All-Star games this season, Knox County’s pitchers have allowed only 14 runs while giving up only 34 hits in 62 innings of work and 19 walks. The pitchers have also combined to strike out 125 batters while compiling an impressive 1.35 ERA.
No wonder they are 10-1 entering Saturday’s game against Indiana’s Hagerstown All-Stars during the Great Kales Regional Tournament.
“Our pitching has been solid,” Payne said. “We are just so deep, that we are able to use our pitchers in many ways. We don’t have a single lefty on our staff and that’s really odd, but we did have one that was a lefty, we’d be really dangerous.”
Knox County might not have a left-handed pitcher, but the seven hurlers who have stepped on the mound during All-Star play have turned in impressive numbers.
Thomas Jackson leads the way with a 3-0 record.
He has tossed the most innings (17) out of all the pitchers, and leads the team with 35 strikeouts. His 0.71 ERA ranks second on the team and he’s allowed only two earned runs and given up only 10 hits while walking only seven batters.
“Thomas is a very good pitcher for us,” Payne said. “He has a fastball and a curveball that he throws.”
With Jackson getting a lot of starts, right-handed hurler Tucker Holland has turned out to be Knox County’s closer many times during the summer. Holland has two saves and he’s also garnered a 2-0 record while tossing 14 and 2/3 of an inning.
“I know a lot of people probably question me for that, but like I said, when he gets in, he gets the job done,” Payne said of putting Holland in the game during the mid-innings. “The momentum swung when we put him in against North Oldham. People also don’t realize the longer period he throws, the more he can wear down.”
He’s known for his hitting, but he’s just as good on the mound.
“He throws in the low 70s and he’s just hard to hit,” Payne said. “We saw it in the North Oldham game when we brought him in after they hit the (three-run) home run. He comes in and strikes out the kid and we’ve got the momentum back. That’s just what he does.”
Holland has also struck out 30 batters, only walked three batters while giving up only one earned run, which is why his ERA is a team-best 0.41 ERA.
Both Mitchel Buchanan and Cole Hicks have saves on the season and have combined to pitch 3 and 2/3 innings while striking out five batters.
“Mitchel is our junk ball pitcher,” Payne said. “He can come at you in many ways. He’s got a nice side-arm curve and Cole can throw a fastball and curve ball.”
Peyton Payne leads Knox County with three saves and he’s also 1-0 during the summer. He’s struck out 25 batters in 11 innings of work and has a 1.09 ERA while giving up only two earned runs and nine hits.
“Peyton has a cutter, fastball and curve ball,” Payne said.
Caleb Powers is 2-0 and has pitched 15 and 1/3 of an inning while garnering a 3.13 ERA while striking out 30 batters and Bailey Lundy has tossed 1/3 of an inning for Knox County.
“This group is very confident in themselves,” Payne said. “They aren’t in a cocky matter, but they do believe in themselves. They have been in bad situations before and lost 8-0 games before, but they learn from those games and continue to get better. I believe in this group of guys and they have shown what they are capable of doing.”
Knox County All-Star roster loaded with talented pitchers
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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