The Harlan baseball team went where no Green Dragon has gone since 2007 on Friday, earning its 20th victory on the season with an 11-8 win over visiting Pineville.
“Our kids had a goal starting last year, and we met our goal,” said Harlan coach Robbie Burns. “We have played hard and worked on this goal. I just hope to continue the success.”
The Green Dragons appeared to be on cruise control with a 10 run lead through three innings.
After a scoreless first, Harlan broke through with five runs in the second inning.
Tye Patrick led off the inning with a single. Jordan Turbyfill followed with a single. Austin Miller loaded the bases with a walk. Jacob Clark drove in the first two runs of the inning with a single. Austin Browning then reached base on a walk. Clark made it 3-0 when he scored on a fielder’s choice from Caleb Hogue. Browning scored a run on an throwing error to third base. McNiel later singled to drive in Hogue for the final run of the inning.
The Green Dragons pushed their lead to double-digits with five more runs in the third inning.
Patrick reached base on a walk. Turbyfill drove in the runner with a double. Miller then singled to score Turbyfill. Clark and Hogue the drew back-to-back walks. Miller scored on a fielder’s choice from McNiel. Burns drove in the final two runs of the inning with an outfield single.
Pineville began to chip away from that point. The Mountain Lions scored three runs in the fourth inning and closed the gap to 10-8 with five runs in the fifth inning. However, Hogue kept the Dragons on top with two shutout innings to close the game and earn the save.
“Hogue came in and shut them down. He hit his spots good and we battled,” Burns said. “We battled the whole game. We came back and Hogue really helped us out.”
Harlan closed the scoring with a run in the sixth inning.
Patrick started the offense with a single. He advanced on a single from Turbyfill and scored on a right field single from Miller.
Turbyfill delivered a double and three singles to power Harlan. Miller recorded three singles. Patrick contributed a pair of singles. McNiel, Burns, Abraham and Clark each added a single.
“We have had different kids hit for us all year long,” Burns said.
McNiel recorded two strikeouts, while scattering seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings to earn the win in the start. Hogue struck out four batters in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Harlan (20-12) returns to action Monday in the 52nd District Tournament at home against Middlesboro. Pineville (9-16) will face Barbourville in the 51st District Tournament on Monday.
— — —
Pineville 000 350 0 — 8 8 3
Harlan 055 001 x — 11 13 2
Adams, Jeffrey (3) and Slusher; McNiel, Hogue (5) and Miller. WP — McNiel. LP — Adams. SV — Hogue.