Not many teams around have done more to exceed their preseason expectations than the Bell County Bobcats. Though they weren’t able to win their regular season finale on Friday, they did go 2-1 in the final week to finish with a record of 13-15.
“We’ve had a better year than they’ve had here in a while. We only lose one player, we’ve just got to go next year and regroup,” first year Bobcat coach Scott Chaney said. “Some of these boys have to toughen up and I’ve got to go into the high school and dig some athletes out for next year. That’s my personal goal and I’m going to challenge these guys to get themselves better.”
Friday, Clay County got two-run homers from Tyler Allen and Austin Carnahan as they pulled away for a 13-3 win. Bell had opened the week with a 1-0 win over North Laurel and beat Jackson County 9-6 on Thursday.
The loss to Clay County marked the final home game for senior second baseman Jackson Lefevers. Lefevers anchored the infield defense for the Bobcats and Chaney said he’s come a long way in his final year.
“Jackson is our only senior and he’s grown up from the beginning of the season until now. I’m proud of him, he tries to lead this team and the kids look to him,” said Chaney. “I wish him the best of luck in the future and wish I could have coached him more.”
Clay jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the first two innings. Jordan White reached on an error leading off the game, stole second and went to third on a Tanner Smith single. Carnahan brought him home with a sac fly to deep left and Allen followed with his home run to make it 3-0. Trevor Sams added an RBI single later in the first and Smith singled home White in the second.
The Bobcats answered in the home second as Jacob Rose launched a lead off double to deep left and then scored when Dylan Cox scorched a grounder that got through the Clay second baseman for an error and rolled all the way to the fence. Cox went to third on a ground out by Zach Turner and then scored as Austin North beat out an infield single to cut the lead to 5-2. North’s hit was an unusual one as it popped right off the end of his bat and hit in foul territory along the first base line, but it had so much top spin it rolled fair and got away form Clay’s first baseman when it hit off the bag.
In the third inning Jeremiah Partin singled, stole second and went to third on a ground out by Aaron Jenkins. Rose followed with a grounder into the hole on the left side and was able to beat out the throw for a two-out RBI single.
5-3 was as close as Bell would get. Clay got an RBI double from Carnahan and then scored two more runs as Dustin Gross reached on an error.
They put the game away in the sixth as Smith reached on an error and Carnahan followed with a two-run homer. Dylan Garrison added an RBI double, Nathaiel Huff an RBI ground out and Tanner Hoskins an RBI double to set the final at 13-3.
Austin Dezarn went all six innings to pick up the win. He gave up three runs on five hits while striking out five and not walking a batter.
Clay County (18-16) will play the winner of the North Laurel-Jackson County game on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the 49th District championship game at North Laurel.
On Thursday, the Bobcats held on for a 9-6 win at Jackson County.
The Generals struck first as singles by Austin Whitehead, D.J. Stone and Jerron Hignite produced a run in the first inning.
Bell answered in the second. Cox singled with one out, Turner reached on an error and Caleb Smith produced an RBI single. With two down, Jared Slusher and Jeremiah Partin both reached on errors as three more runs came home to give the Bocbats a 4-1 lead.
Smith belted a two-run double to score Jenkins and Cox in the third to push the lead to 6-1. Evan Brock doubled in the fourth and scored as Rose reached on an error and an RBI single from Turner made it 8-2. Brock singled and Jenkins brought him home with a double in the fifth as the lead grew to 9-2.
Turner, the Bell starting pitcher, ran into some trouble in the fifth. Whitehead singled, Stone walked and Hignite singled to load the bases and Tay Muncy was hit by a pitch to force in a run. After a strikeout, Aaron Duncan hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice that brought in another run.
Ethan Mason took over to pitch in the sixth and gave up an RBI single to Whitehead. Later in the inning, Whitehead scored on an error and the lead was down to 9-6.
After walks to Cody Cunnigan and Duncan to open the bottom of the seventh, Smith took over on the mound. Cunnigan was caught trying to steal third and Duncan advanced to third on an error. But Smith got a pop up and then a strikeout to close the game.
Turner went the first five innings to pick up the win. He allowed three earned runs on six hits while striking out three, walking one and hitting three batters. Smith got the final three outs without allowing a base runner and struck out one to get a save.
Smith also led the Bell offense with two singles and a double to drive in three runs. Cox also had two singles and a double and scored two runs. Brock and Jenkins both doubled while Turner and North added singles.
Jackson County (9-16) plays host North Laurel in the first round of the 49th District Tournament on Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Bell County ends the regular season with a record of 13-15. They’ll take on Harlan County on Monday at 8 p.m. in the first round of the 52nd District Tournament at Harlan.
“We’re just going to go play. It really depends on which bunch of mine shows up. We’ve got some kids that lay down on me in some games and we’ve got some that come and play,” Chaney said of the match-up. “You never know about this bunch, if we can go and get off to a good start we may be able to compete with them. If we start out bad, I’ve got five or six that will lay down and it will be an early night for us.”
— — —
Bell County…042 210 0 — 9 11 4
Jackson Co….101 022 0 — 6 7 4
Turner, Mason (6), Smith (7) and Jenkins; Duncan, Whitehead (4) and Muncy. W-Turner. L-Duncan. Sv.-Smith.
— — —
Clay County…410 305 — 13 13 3
Bell County…021 000 — 3 5 3
Dezarn and Gross; North, Smith (5) and Jenkins. W-Dezarn. L-North. HR-Clay: Allen, Carnahan.