By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
CORBIN — Friday’s District 4 Little League Tournament action was as good as advertised as Knox County won a 7-5 thriller over Hazard/Perry in the winner’s bracket finals and Williamsburg pummeled Harlan 11-0 in five innings.
The combination of the two games sets up Saturday’s loser’s bracket finals between Hazard/Perry and Williamsburg at 3 p.m.
Winner’s bracket final
Knox County 7, Hazard/Perry 5
Coming into Friday’s winner’s bracket finals against Hazard/Perry, Knox County 12-year-old All Star coach Scott Payne said he felt the contest would be a battle.
Was he ever right.
But after falling behind 3-0 in the early stages, Knox County used a three-run fifth inning to grab the 7-5 win, putting them one win away from advancing to the state tournament.
“We knew what we were in for coming in to this game and our kids knew what kind of team we were up against,” Payne said. “These kids of ours won a state championship last year and of all the teams we faced, this Hazard/Perry group is the one that gave us the most trouble.
“We hung tough though and we were able to get a lead late,” he added. “I knew if we could just get the lead and get Tucker (Holland) in there on the mound we would be OK and it worked out for us.”
Knox County struggled early against Hazard/Perry ace Braxton Cottongame, who gave up just one run on one hit through three innings, while striking out eight.
Hazard/Perry struck first with a run in the top of the first inning and pushed the lead to 3-0 with a pair of runs in the top of the third.
That’s when Hazard/Perry made the mistake of replacing Cottongame, who is listed on Perry County Central High School’s varsity roster, on the pitcher’s mound.
Knox County took advantage to the tune of four runs in the inning as they sent eight batters to the plate. After a walk (Bailey Lundy) forced a run in, a sacrifice fly off the bat of Mitchell Buchanan cut the lead to 3-2 when Caleb Powers tagged up and scored from third.
A two-run single by Jaylen Adams put Knox County on top for the first time in the game as they took a 4-3 lead, but the lead didn’t last long.
With his team leading, Payne elected to go with Holland in the top of the fifth inning, but the decision looked like the wrong one in the early going. After giving up a leadoff single, Holland served up a two-run home run to Jacob Johnson, which put Hazard/Perry back on top, 5-4.
But like every other lead in the game to that point, it wouldn’t last.
After Holland walked to start the inning, an RBI single from Peyton Payne made the score 5-4. Another walk and a single by Kirkland Bryant loaded the bases with no outs in the inning for Knox County.
After a fielder’s choice for the first out, Knox County took a 6-5 lead on a wild pitch and pushed the gap to 7-5 when Dakota Tye’s sacrifice fly allowed Bryant to score from third, putting his team on top 7-5 heading to the top of the sixth.
Holland struck out the first two batters of the inning, but a dropped third strike and a walk to Cottongame put the tying runs on base. Holland managed to work out of trouble, striking out Wade Pelfrey to end the game.
Williamsburg 11, Harlan 0
Williamsburg pounded out 12 hits through five innings Friday, including three home runs, as it cruised to an 11-0 win over Harlan to advance to the loser’s bracket finals today.
Clay Kysar led the way for Williamsburg with a perfect 4-for-4 effort at the plate, including a game-clinching three-run home run to end the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Caleb Rains and Hunter Brown also homered in the win.
Williamsburg’s T.W. Siler got the win on the mound, going the distance and giving up just three hits and striking out seven Harlan batters en route to the victory.