A strong first inning helped lead Middlesboro 11- and 12-year old all-stars to a victory on Thursday. After gaining a 4-1 lead at the end of the first inning, Middlesboro went on to defeat Pineville-Bell, 11-6. The team advances to the district tournament with the victory.
“We worked real hard. We’ve been out here practicing for two weeks,” said Middlesboro coach Tony McCullough. “We hit the ball real well. It feels good to go to districts.”
Middlesboro was able to get the bats rolling early in the game, scoring four runs in the first inning, two in the second and three in the third. Dillon Clark led the way for the all-stars. He went 4-4 batting and hit a home run.
Hannah McCullough also had a strong game at-bat, going 3-4 and scoring two runs.
“It was most definitely important (to get the bats rolling),” said Tony McCullough. “Hits came through when we needed them, and we didn’t leave a lot of runners on base. We had a lot of errors that we had to make up for, and I think our bats pulled us through this game.”
Despite a slow start, Pineville-Bell battled to stay in the game. The team stayed with reaching distance of Middlesboro, scoring two runs in the third and two runs in the fourth. The team could not stage a comeback.
“We started out a little sluggish,” said Pineville-Bell coach Darrin Clark. “They came out firing with their bats, and that kind of shocked us just a little bit in the first inning. We just couldn’t make up the distance.”
Pineville-Bell’s Jacob Smith helped keep the game within distance. He went 2-4 with two home runs. Cameron Burnett aided in the effort, going 3-3.
With the loss, Pineville-Bell was eliminated from the tournament.
Middlesboro’s Clark started the game with a home run to put the team on the board. McCullough got on base with a single. After Dawson Woolum struck out Chandler Mink and TJ Patterson, Eric Helton hit a RBI double to score McCullough.
Hunter Hoskins hit a home run to center field to put Middlesboro up 4-0. Tyshawn Simpson was thrown out at first by Woolum to end the at-bat.
Following a three-pitch strike out from Cole Hoskins, Smith hit a home run to cut into the lead. Reese Capps and Hayden Clark struck out to end Pineville-Bell’s at-bat with Alex Mays left on base.
At the end of the first, Pineville-Bell trailed 4-1.
Middlesboro increased their lead at the top of the second. Steven Justice singled to lead off. He was thrown out attempting to steal second.
Clark hit a double. He later scored after a double from McCullough.
After the double, McCullough stole third with Mink batting. She stole home on an error to bring the score to 6-1. Mink was thrown out at first in the sequence.
Middlesboro’s at-bat ended when Helton struck out swinging.
Pineville-Bell couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the second. Dalton Stepp struck out swinging to lead off. Burnett singled to get on base. He advanced to second after Hayden Callebs was walked.
With runners on first and second, Woolum hit a double. Stepp was thrown out at home in the sequence, leaving runners on second and third. Cole Hoskins struck out in four pitches to end the inning.
Middlesboro scored three more runs in the third inning. Woolum struck out Hunter Hoskins to get the team’s first out. Thomas Justice got on base after being hit by a pitch. He stole two bases while Simpson was batting.
Simpson struck out, giving the team their second out. After a seven-pitch battle, Steven Justice was walked. Thomas Justice stole home on a wild pitch to give Middlesboro a 7-1 lead.
With Clark up to bat, Steven Justice stole second and third base. He scored on a Clark single.
McCullough hit a double to put Clark in scoring position. Clark scored after he stole home on a wild pitch to increase Middlesboro’s lead to 9-1.
Pineville-Bell started battling back in the third inning. After a strike out by Smith, Capps hit a double. He advanced to third base after a hit by Mays, who was thrown out at first in the sequence.
Capps scored on a single from Hayden Clark. Stepp hit a double to put Hayden in scoring position. Burnett hit an RBI double to score Hayden Clark.
At the end of the third, Pineville-Bell trailed 9-3.
Middlesboro was held scoreless in the fourth inning. Patterson and Hoskins were struck out by Stepp, who was brought in to pitch in the third inning. Jay Tyler West hit a line drive to first for the final out.
Pineville-Bell continued to cut into the lead in the bottom of the fourth. During the inning, Dillon Clark was brought in to pitch for Middlesboro.
Woolum hit a single to start of the at-bat for Pineville-Bell. After a strike out by Cole Hoskins, Smith hit his second home run of the game. Capps and Mays both got out to end the inning.
Going into the fifth inning, Middlesboro led Pineville-Bell, 9-5. Neither team scored in the fifth inning.
Middlesboro put the game out of reach in the sixth and final inning. Mink got on base after being hit by a pitch. Patterson was walked. Both base runners scored after a RBI single from Helton to give Middlesboro an 11-5 lead.
Pineville put their final point on the board off the bat of Mays. Capps got on base with a solo double. He scored after Mays got a hit. Mays was thrown out at second during the sequence to end the game.
Middlesboro defeated Pineville-Bell 11-6.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN