CORBIN — Pack your bags, Corbin 11-12 year-old All Star fans, your team is heading to Prestonsburg to play in the 11-12 year-old State Tournament.
Cole Stevens' home run in the top of the seventh inning broke a one-all tie and eventually turned into the game-winning hit as the Corbin 11-12 year-old All Stars handed North Laurel a 2-1 loss during Sunday's District 4 Tournament title game.
Stevens came up to the plate in the seventh inning hitless during his first three at-bats, but delivered the first pitch he saw from North Laurel's Eli Holt over the left field fence, giving teammate Clay Botner a one-run lead to play with on the mound in the bottom of the seventh.
The one-run cushion was all Botner would need.
He retired the side in order and capped off his two-inning scoreless effort to advance Corbin to state tournament play.
"We've had a bunch of kids that weren't expected to do much," Corbin assistant coach Chad Estep said. "We are starting to see kids evolving as players and that's good to see.
"The biggest thing for us was attention to details," he added. "The most pleasing thing for the coaching staff has been seeing them evolve. They've worked very hard to get to where they are. They've embraced the process to improve."
Dusty Allen's North Laurel squad had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after seeing both Holt and Ashton Clemons reach base with consecutive walks to begin the inning.
Botner managed to get out of the jam by getting Brody Rice to ground into a double play while striking out Cameron Smith to end the scoring threat.
North Laurel was able to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning after seeing EJ Allen score on Holt's misplayed grounder.
Corbin tied the game at one apiece in the top of the third inning after Cam Estep's run-scoring triple scored JP Carmichael.
Estep, Jayden Davis and Stevens each finished with a hit for Corbin while Carter Kelley and Benjamin Baker had North Laurel's lone hits.
Keaton Smith turned in another solid pitching effort for Corbin, tossing four innings while surrendering only two hits. He also struck out seven batters. Lucas Brittain followed by tossing an inning of scoreless relief.
Holt tossed 6 2/3 of an inning for North Laurel, allowing only three hits and one earned run. He finished with 10 strikeouts while Benjamin Baker struck out the only batter he faced.
Corbin will be back in action Saturday during pool play of the 11-12 year-old State Tournament.
Corbin is scheduled to play District 7 champion Floyd County at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday before going up against District 3 champion Lexington Eastern on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Corbin will finish pool play on Monday, July 22, with a game against District 6 champion Russell-Flatwoods at 5 p.m.
Semifinal action is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. while the title game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start on Wednesday, July 24.