WHITESBURG — A 1-0 Harlan County lead slipped away as quickly as 1-2-3 on Saturday afternoon in a 3-1 loss to defending 14th Region champ Letcher Central.
The Bears had finally given Connor Leisge a lead with a run in the top of the sixth, but the Harlan County ace couldn’t hold it as Dakota Adams, Dakota Yonts and Jaylyn Williams had hits on consecutive pitches, matching the Cougars’ total through the first five innings.
The Cougars started their comeback when leadoff hitter Mason Salyers was safe on a two-base error on a ball hit to right field. After Jarrett Fields moved Salyers to third with a sacrifice, Letcher got to Leisge for three straight hits, beginning with Adams’ RBI single, followed by Dakota Younts’ RBI double. After King singled to put runners on first and third, Jalyn Williams followed with his third single to put Letcher up by two. Leisge worked out of the jam by getting Zane Blair on a line drive to shortstop and Jordan Rose on a grounder to first.
Harlan County broke through against Letcher junior righthander Max Hall with a two-out rally in the sixth. Tyler Cornett singled, then pinch runner Josh Hunting came around to score when second baseman Zach Doss tripled. Letcher center fielder Jarrett Fields was unable to make the shoe-string catch as the ball slipped past for the go-ahead run.
Freshman catcher Brendan Rutherford led the Harlan County offense with two singles. Doss added a triple and Leisge doubled. Anthony Jenkins and Blake Rutherford had one single each.
Leisge (4-2) struck out five and walked none as he pitched a complete game. Hall also went the distance with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Harlan County 000 001 0 — 1 6 2
Letcher Central 000 003 x — 3 7 0
Leisge and Brendan Rutherford; Hall and Fox. WP — Hall. LP — Leisge (4-2).
Estill County 8, Harlan County 4
With eight starters at home to attend the HCHS prom, the Bears played a surprisingly competitive game against another of the 14th Region’s top teams.
Sophomore shortstop Dylan Cornett had a big day at the plate for the 15-10 Bears with a two-run homer to left in the sixth inning and a single in the fourth. Season Johnson added a pair of singles. Nick Jarvis, Brendan Rutherford and Cameron Nease had one single each.
Gage Burkhart gave up eight runs on six hits with four strikeouts and six walks in five innings. Cameron Nease pitched one hitless inning in relief.
Estill ace Jacob Tuttle, a senior righthander, gave up two runs on five hits with 11 strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Zach Withers pitched one inning, giving up two runs on two hits.
Tuttle had a three-run double and a single to lead the 16-6 Engineers at the plate.
Harlan County 000 110 2 — 4 7 3
Estill County 105 110 x — 8 6 1
Burkhart, Nease (6) and Jarvis; Tuttle, Withers (6) and Blackwell. WP — Tuttle. LP — Burkhart (0-2)