By John Henson For the Times-Tribune
HARLAN — After capturing the District 4 Senior League Championship this week, the North Laurel Senior League All Stars will face Oldham County in the state tournament this weekend.
North Laurel had to regroup after a loss to Harlan County Monday, but they did just that as they picked up an 8-7 win.
• North Laurel 8, Harlan County 7
North Laurel coach Bill Abner took a glance at the Harlan County High School scoreboard when making his point about the battle his North Laurel All Stars had just won to edge Harlan County 8-7 in eight innings in the District 4 Senior League Tournament finals.
“It was a heck of a ballgame. It was hard fought. You can see nobody ever took control of it,” Abner said. “This is what you like at this level, guys getting after it and playing aggressive. This was a very even district this year.”
Harlan County battled back from deficits three times as North Laurel led 2-0, then 5-3 and 6-5. North Laurel took an 8-6 lead in the top of the eighth inning on a two-base throwing error by Harlan County pitcher Caleb Hogue. “There were three different deficits, and they just kept fighting back,” Harlan coach Corey Estep said. “It's been like this from day one with this group. They didn't want to go home. We just fell a little bit short. Sometimes the ball doesn't roll your way.”
North Laurel advances to the state tournament opening Saturday at Oldham County High School.
• Harlan County 8, North Laurel 6
After being held to two runs in a loss to Clay County in the opening game of the District 4 Senior League Tournament, the Harlan County All Stars went to work on improving their offense.
“After the first game they wanted to hit, and I've been opening the cage for them and it's been showing up,” Harlan County coach Corey Estep said.
The results of that extra work were obvious Monday as Harlan County pounded out 11 hits in an 8-6 win over North Laurel.