The Middlesboro Yellow Jackets downed Harlan 17-2 last Thursday.
It marked the fifth straight win for the Jackets since returning from their Spring Break trip to Myrtle Beach and put them firmly in control of the 52nd District with home and home sweeps of both Harlan and Harlan County.
“The trip to Myrtle Beach was a real bonding trip for the team,” said MHS coach John Smith. “It was nice not to have any distractions. We were just down there practicing and playing without worrying about much else. Of course we want to win while we are down there, but we were there to get better. We weren’t worried about our win-loss record. We saw some really good pitching down there and I think it really helped us get better.”
Harlan scored one run in the top of the first inning, but the Jackets answered right back and put up 11 runs in their half of the inning and never looked back.
Collier Elkins singled, doubled and walked twice in the game and led the Jacket offense with three runs scored and three RBI. The junior had reached base safely in 10 straight plate apperances and was ranked in the top ten in the state with a .510 batting average on the season, according to the KHSAA website.
Lane Perry drove in three runs with a sac fly and two-run single. Braden Ausmus had three hits and drove in a run while Chris Callihan also had three hits and drove in two. Shawn North singled twice while Tyshawn Simpson and Stephen Justice also had hits with Justice scoring three runs in the game.
“Our bats have been hot for about the past two weeks. We’ve been coming around and sticking it pretty good, especially with runners in scoring position,” Smith said. “We’ve been able to hit some timely hits lately and put ourselves in a good position.”
Callihan worked the first two innings while giving up two runs on two hits. He struck out two but issued six walks.
Freshman Tyler Harris came on to pitch a scorless third inning before the MHS bats closed out the game.
“Our pitching has been one of our strong points for most of the season,” Smith said. “Callihan wasn’t as hot tonight, but we gave him a 10-run lead early. Freshman Tyler Harris come in and did what he has done all year. He’s been a bulldog and closed out some big games for us. He did the same tonight.”
Middlesboro is 7-8 on the season after Monday’s loss to Knox Central. The Yellow Jackets host Bell County on Thursday and will visit the Bobcats on Friday to close out district play.