By John Stepp For The Times Tribune
SOUTH LAUREL — After losing four straight games just two weeks ago, the Corbin Redhounds have bounced back to win seven of their last eight, including back-to-back district wins over the South Laurel Cardinals.
Their latest win came Tuesday night in the form of a 5-2 victory over South Laurel, putting the Redhounds in the driver's seat for the first seed in the 50th District Tournament.
“With this win, we have eliminated South Laurel from being able to finish ahead of us in district play, and that is big for us,” Corbin coach Rob Ledington said. “South Laurel is a very good team and a lot of people had them picked to win the entire region. I think we showed that we can compete with anyone in the region now.”
The Redhounds may have been written off by some around the region after playing to a 3-7 record to start the season. Now Corbin sits at 10-8 on the season and look to be a regional contender.
“We always begin the season with some struggles. We like to play a tough schedule early on and we feel like that prepares us for our district and region games,” Ledington said. “We had some things we needed to correct earlier in the year, but we have gotten better and are really playing our best baseball right now.”
While the Redhounds have been one of the top defensive teams in the region this season, it was their hitting holding them back. But, it was also their hitting that allowed them to win their second game in as many nights against the Cardinals.
Corbin pounded out four runs in the first inning of Tuesday night’s game. Phillip Jones reached base on an error to lead off the inning and scored on a single by Taylor Combs. Combs later scored on a single by Nick Vorbeck, giving the Redhounds a 2-0 lead with one out. That's when sophomore Peyton Buford belted a two-run home run, helping Corbin to a 4-0 lead after one.
“They got us on our heels early and we were not ready to respond,” South Laurel coach Wynn Harris said. “We made some mistakes that hurt us and never recovered. Corbin has a good ball club and played a great game.”
Corbin went on to score one more run in the top of the fifth inning. After Jones reached base on a double, Taylor Combs brought him home for a second time on the night, pushing the Redhounds' lead to 5-0 through five.
“I tell our kids that pitching, defense, and base running will always keep us in ball games, and it has all year. Hitting is what will come and go and we have been fortunate to hit the ball well in our past few games,” Ledington said. “We hit the ball well again tonight and that is what we have to do to win district games like these.”
South Laurel made a valiant effort at a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Taylor Morris and Austin Vingeant each scored in the inning, but the Cardinals fell short of the come back, 5-2.
“Hopefully this is just a funk that we're in. Now we've got to regroup. The good thing about it is, I told them tonight that this isn't the end of the season. We're not taking jerseys up,” said Harris. “We still have three or four weeks left in the season, and a lot of time to keep getting better.”
The two teams will play each other in the third game of the series Thursday at South Laurel.
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