Locked in a 4-4 tie with Harlan on Thursday at Huff Park, Hazard exploded for eight runs in the fifth inning to win 12-6 and capture second place in the Area 4 Tournament.
Shortstop Hunter Hardy opened the decisive fifth inning with a single. Collier Mobelini followed with an RBI double and came home on Joey Sams’ single.
Tye Patrick, the second Harlan pitcher, almost worked out of the jam by recording two outs and getting Josh Lickliter to hit a fly ball to left field, but the ball was dropped in the outfield to bring in two more runs. Hardy’s second hit of the inning, a two-run double, pushed the lead to 11-4. Harlan’s third error of the inning brought in Hazard’s final run before Sherman Ward came in to record the last out.
Harlan tried to battle back in the sixth inning as Dylan Brewer walked with two outs and scored on Nick Cornett’s double. Aaron Simpson followed with an RBI single before Nathan Stupart recorded the final out on a pop up to shortstop by Jacob Clark.
Stupart gave up two runs on two hits in three innings to record the win. Collier Mobelini started on the mound and gave up four runs on three hits in three-plus innings.
Jacob Hensley started on the mound for Harlan and gave up four runs in 3 2/3 innings. Hensley didn’t allow a hit but was hurt by nine walks. Patrick allowed eight runs on five hits in one inning. Ward struck out the only batter he faced.
Hardy led the Hazard offense with two hits. Mobelini, Nathan Pray and Sams each added one hit.
Harlan was led at the plate by Cornett with a double and single and Brewer with two singles. Simpson added one single.
Harlan raced to a 3-0 lead in the first inning with the help of two errors and two walks.
Hazard scored twice in the bottom of the first after leadoff walks to Pray and Brandon Kilburn. Hardy brought in Pray with a sacrifice fly, and Kilburn scored on a wild pitch.
Brewer singled with two outs in the second and ended up scoring Harlan’s fourth run with some nifty base running after an infield hit by Cornett.
Hazard cut the deficit to one with a run in the second on three walks and tied it in the fourth as Kevin Eversole walked, stole second, moved to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
The eight-team District 4 Tournament opens Monday at Huff Park in Harlan.
Tri-Cities won the Area 4 championship after rolling past Leslie County 21-3 and Hazard 10-0. Hazard finished second after the win over Harlan and will also advance to district competition.
Williamsburg was reportedly the champion of Area 3 with a victory over Knox County and an 18-5 win over Middlesboro in the championship game. Knox County edged Middlesboro 4-3 for second place.
South London reportedly won Area 2 by defeating Corbin and North Laurel. Corbin edged North Laurel 14-12 for second place.
Wayne County won the Area 1 championship with a 12-0 win over Burnside and a 5-3 victory over Pulaski County in the championship game. Pulaski County captured second place with a 34-4 win Thursday over Burnside, but a source in Somerset said that the Pulaski County coaching staff announced after the game that the team will not participate in the district tournament.
Harlan 310 002 — 6 5 5
Hazard 210 18x — 12 5 2
Hensley, Patrick (4), Ward (5) and Torstrick; Mobelini, Stupart (4) and Eversole, Sams (4). W—Stupart, 1-0. L—Patrick, 0-1.