CORBIN — A weather delay brought a change in momentum Tuesday night as Harlan’s 11-12 All-Stars scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull out a 4-3 win over Middlesboro in an elimination game at the District 4 Tournament.
Harlan advances to play Wayne County in another elimination game today at 8 p.m. at Rotary Park in Corbin.
It was a tale of two games. Behind a dominant performance from pitcher Riley Gent and some opportunistic base-running Middlesboro’s All-Stars built a 3-0 lead by the top of the fifth.
Tyson Thomas walked in the third inning, stole second and took third on a throwing error on the play. Shaw North followed with an RBI ground out to second to put Middlesboro up 1-0.
In the fifth, Macy Mink and Ethan Treece both walked and they both came around to score on wild pitches as North also walked with one out.
That’s when lightning halted play and heavy rain set in delaying the game for over an hour.
Antonio Roman took over on the mound for Harlan when play resumed and got two strikeouts to end the inning.
Gent had held Harlan to two hits and a walk while striking out 11 over the first four frames, but a pair of errors opened the door for a rally in the fifth.
Nick Hunting led off by getting a bunt down and reaching on an error. He went to second on a wild pitch, but Gent came back with his 12th strikeout of the game. Roman chopped a ball off the plate that went for an infield single as Hunting went to third. Roman stole second and James Harris followed with a grounder to short. He went to second and both runners scored on a throwing error on the play to cut the lead to 3-2.
Jacob Thompson then delivered a hard grounder to the left-center field gap for an RBI double to bring in Harris with the tying run. Jabari Kyle relieved Gent and got a strikeout for the second out, but James Gray’s single past short brought Thompson in with the go-ahead run.
Roman got two more strikeouts as he retired Middlesboro in order in the sixth to close out the win. He finished with four Ks over 1-2/3 perfect innings.
Harris started for Harlan and gave up just an unearned run on one hit and one walk while striking out seven over four innings.
Gent was stuck with the loss despite not allowing an earned run. He finished with 12 strikeouts over his 4-1/3 innings while giving up four unearned runs on four hits and a walk.
Harlan threatened in the bottom of the first when Harris reached after striking out on a wild pitch with one out. He was forced out on Thompson’s grounder to second and Jordan Steele walked. But Gent got another strikeout to end the inning.
Mink made the defensive play of the game in the bottom of the third. Roman sent a dribbler down the first base line for an infield single and Gent’s throw to first got away from Sebastian Wagoner and went into right field. Mink backed the play up perfectly and fired a strike to Kyle to retire Roman going for second.
Kyle led off the top of the fourth with a single to right for Middlesboro’s only hit of the game. He was picked off at first, but got into a rundown and was awarded second on interference. But Harris struck out the side to end that inning.
Harlan had another threat going in the fourth. With two out, Gray bounced a single over Wagoner’s head and Kobe Burkhart grounder to short got through for a two-base error. With runners on second and third Gent bore down to get a strikeout and keep Middlesboro up 1-0.
Roman had two hits and a run scored while Gray had two singles and an RBI to lead the Harlan offense. Thompson added an RBI double while Hunting and Harris both reached on errors and scored runs. Burkhart reached on an error and was hit by a pitch and Steele walked.
Kyle singled for Middlesboro while Thomas, Mink and Treece all walked and scored runs. North walked and drove in a run with a ground out.
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Riley Gent, Jabari Kyle (5) and D.J. Estes; James Harris, Jordan Steele (5), Antonio Roman (5) and James Gray. W — Roman. L — Gent.