With two outs and one on, Tyler Boggs sent a towering shot toward the fence in left. It was difficult for a moment to determine if the ball landed past the fence or just inside it, but North Laurel left fielder Ryan Shears picked up the ball after it bounced against the fence and threw out Tyler Grubbs at the plate for a dramatic conclusion to a hard-fought game that marked the end of the season for Harlan.
The Harlan All-Stars played much better than they did in a lackluster 3-1 loss to Wayne County on Thursday, taking the lead twice only to watch North Laurel rally each time.
“I probably went one inning to long with my starter, and I take the blame,” said Harlan coach Hollis Boggs. “The boys played hard. We hit the ball a lot better today. We just hit at right at them in the first couple of innings.”
Harlan struggled to find a hole in the North Laurel defense early as several nice plays on defense kept the game scoreless until the third inning when Harlan broke through against Taylor Durham for three runs.
With two out and two on, Boggs blooped a single into right field to drive home Grubbs. Andrew Dozier's single loaded the bases, setting the stage for a two-run double by Tyler Brewer, who drove home Ty Saragas and Boggs. After walking Jared Fuson to load the bases, Durham escaped when center fielder Nick Miller made a diving catch of a line drive hit by Harlan's Zack Hollins.
Harlan's Austin Vannatter allowed only one baserunner through the first two inning before running into trouble in the bottom of the third. Taylor Bowling's double and walks to Trevor Nichols and Bubby Brooks loaded the bases. John Evans and Ethan Eversole each singled in runs and an error on a throw from second by Saragas pulled North Laurel even. Eversole was cut down at the plate on a throw from Chad Massingill at shortstop on a double steal attempt, and then Vannatter got Blake Reams on a popup to third to end the threat.
Harlan briefly reclaimed the lead on Vannatter's leadoff homer in the fourth inning, but North Laurel responded with four runs in the bottom of the fourth to build a 7-4 advantage. Two walks and an infield single by Durham loaded the bases. An infield fly by Cole Lewis tied the game. After a walk to Evans reloaded the bases, Eversole cleared them with a three-run double.
Saragas was called in to pitch and retired Reams on one pitch when Massingill made a catch near the line in left.
Harlan got one run back in the fifth after Boggs led off with an infield single and Dozier followed with a double to right. Jared Fuson's ground out drove home Boggs.
Eversole, the North Laurel ace, came on to close the game in the sixth and gave up a walk to Grubbs before retiring Massingill and Saragas and giving up a double to Boggs.
Boggs led the Harlan All-Stars at the plate with a double and two singles. Dozier added a double and single. Vannatter homered, Brewer doubled and Christian Turbyfill had a single.
Vannatter struck out four, walked eight and gave up five hits in 3 2-3 innings. Saragas pitched 1-3 of an inning, and Grubbs pitched one inning with one strikeout and no walks.
Jarod Barton pitched a one-hitter in the second game as Williamsburg defeated Jackson County 2-0. Williamsburg defeated Rockcastle County 8-2 in previously unreported action Thursday as Ceejay Jones tossed three-hitter. Kenton Adams' homer accounted for Rockcastle's only runs.
The tournament continues today at Huff Park with Wayne County taking on Middlesboro at 2 p.m. in the winners' bracket final and North Laurel playing Williamsburg at 4.
Harlan 003 110 - 7 8 1
North Laurel 003 40x - 5 5 2
Vannatter, Saragas (4), Grubbs (5) and Boggs; Durham, Eversole (6) and Eversole, Bowling. W-Durham. L-Vannatter. Sv-Eversole. HR-Harlan, Vannatter.
Jackson County 000 000 - 0 1 0
Williamsburg 200 00x - 2 4 0
Duncan and Gray; Barton and Mahan. W-Barton. L-Duncan. HR-Rockcastle, Adams.
Rockcastle County 000 200 - 2 3 2
Williamsburg 070 01x - 8 6 2
Smith, King (2) and Saylor; Jones and Barton. W-Jones. L-Smith. HR-Rockcastle, Adams.