HARLAN — The Bell County Bobcats saw their season come to a close on Monday, but not before they put a scare into the heavily favored Harlan County Black Bears in the first round of the 52nd District Tournament.
Bell County opened the scoring with a four run outburst in the second inning. Zach Turner, Caleb Smith, Austin North and Jared Slusher each scored in the inning as the Bobcats jumped out to a 4-0 advantage.
The Bears got on the board with two runs in the bottom of the inning, but Bell wasn’t finished.
Dylan Cox singled in the third and later came around to score on a base hit by Smith for a 5-2 Bobcat advantage.
With their postseason hopes fading, Harlan County rallied to take the lead for good with five runs in the bottom of the third.
James Bond reached base after being hit by a pitch. Scotty Bailey drew a walk. Bond and Bailey both scored on a throwing error to first base. Leisge, Anthony Jenkins and Zach Jenkins also scored in the inning.
Bailey closed the scoring with a run in the sixth inning.
Boggs had a double and single to lead the Bears’ attack. Anthony Jenkins, Zach Jenkins, Leisge, Doss, Rutherford and Gage Burkhart added one single each.
Tyler Cornett struck out eight batters in 4 1/3 innings to earn the win on the mound. Cox, the Bobcats’ sophomore designated hitter, had three singles to pace Bell’s offense. Smith and Aaron Jenkins singled twice each. Slusher and Turner had one single each.
With the win Harlan County (25-9) advances to the 52nd District Championship against Middlesboro at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Bell County closes the season at 13-16.
The Bobcats, who lose just one senior in second baseman Jackson Lefevers, took a big step forward in their first season under coach Scott Chaney. With the majority of the roster composed of juniors next year, Bell could be poised to challenge for the district title.
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Bell County… 041 000 0 — 5 8 3
Harlan Co….. 025 001 x — 8 9 2
Turner, North (3), Mason (6) and Jenkins; Jenkins, Cornett (2), Bond (7) and Boggs. W — Cornett. L— Turner.