The Middlesboro Yellow Jackets are the 13th Region All “A” champions for the fifth time in the last six years. Middlesboro completed a dominant run through the tournament with a 17-1 win at Jackson County Friday night.
In their three tournament games — all on the road — Middlesboro outscored Oneida Baptist, Barbourville and Jackson County by a combined score of 54-5.
“We had a bad taste in our mouths from last year when we lost to Williamsburg in the championship game and we really felt like we gave that one away,” Yellow Jacket coach John Smith said. “The guys have just come out focused every game on taking care of business. They got a taste of what it was like playing the All ‘A’ state when they were freshmen and they’ve wanted to get back. We also want to show that we’re a team to contend with in the 13th Region.”
Friday night senior Lucas Crawford (1-1) pitched all five innings and gave up just one hit while striking out nine to get the win. He also helped his own cause with two singles and a double.
“Lucas threw some great games for us as a sophomore and we put him on the mound in big spots last year. He’s a senior now and he’s just a bulldog on the mound every time we give him the ball. I felt like he was the man to go to in the championship game,” Smith said.
Junior third baseman Tyler Yoakum led a potent Middlesboro offense with seven RBI. He hit a grand slam home run to go along with a single and and a double in the game. Lead-off man Jake Brock singled, walked twice and scored four runs. Van Ball had two hits, two walks and three runs scored; and Brandyn Ball also had a hit and scored three times.
“As a freshman Yoakum had a big year all through the district and region tournaments. He didn’t hit the ball quite as well last year, but he’s stepped up so far this season,” Smith said. “The thing about him is he works hard every day and it doesn’t matter whether he’s having a good day or a bad day, he takes the same approach and doesn’t take it with him when goes out to play defense. Tonight, he just had a huge game. Guys were getting on base in front of him and he was smacking the ball all over the field and bringing them home.”
Middlesboro (5-1) will play at the 15th Region champion (that’s the Pikeville-Paintsville area) in an All “A” sectional game at a later date. The 15th Region All “A” Classic won’t be played until the week of April 7. The Jackets return to action at Barbourville on Monday.
Jackson County (2-2) plays at Paris and against Sayre on Saturday.