Dragons battle back to defeat Bell

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Down 7-1 in the fifth inning and heading for their 10th loss in 11 games, the Harlan Green Dragons may have saved their season with a seven-run explosion that propelled them to a 12-7 win Monday over visiting Bell County in the opening game of a district doubleheader.

Harlan turned the game with a small ball, base-running attack that coach Cory Estep has been preaching in his two years on the job. The Dragons had two bunt singles that seemed to fluster the Bobcats, leading to four errors in the inning.

“I’m proud of our resiliency. I wanted to get back to the way we play ball, and I thought we did that tonight,” Estep said. “We’re trying put pressure on people. Once it happens it’s a snowball effect, either in our favor or theirs. Tonight it was in our favor.”

After giving up six runs in the first inning, Harlan junior Will Varner found the command that he had lost of late, allowing only one run over the final 4 1/3 innings on the mound. Varner struck out 10 and walked three in 6 1/3 innings before reaching the pitch limit. Senior Tyler Carmical recorded the final two outs.

“We’ve been making some adjustments with mechanics, and it’s starting to pay off,” Estep said. “He was falling off, but we’ve tried to fix that and get him back to where he was last year.”

Junior catcher Josh Knuckles led Harlan’s nine-hit attack with a double and two singles. Carmical and Jacob McCurry each singled twice. Varner and Jeremiah Mills had one single each.

Chandler Mink led the Bobcats with three singles. Jacob Wombles singled twice and Jason Jones singled once.

Bell County turned the tables in the second game, rallying from a 9-1 deficit after two innings and 15-12 deficit going into its final at bat to win 17-15. The two teams combined for 20 errors in a game that lasted well into the night.

Ethan Brock led the Bobcats with a double and two singles. Isaac Collett had a double and single. Jones singled twice. Wombles, Jacob Smith, D.J. Estes and Alex Mays had one single each.

Wombles earned the win on the mound as he gave up seven runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings, with three strikeouts and two walks.

Varner again led Harlan with a double and two singles. Carmical and Pedro Roman had two singles each. Michael Robinson, Knuckles, McCurry, Garrett Begley and Ethan Cornett contributed one single each.

Bell grabbed an early lead in the opening game with four runs in its first at bat. Nine Bobcats came to the plate that inning with the help of two hit batsmen and a walk. Mink singled home two runs and Mays brought in another with a sacrifice fly.

Harlan batted around during its seven-run fifth inning after Mills, Varner and Carmical opened with singles. Mills scored on Carmical’s bunt hit and Varner scored when he stole home. Knuckles drove in a run with a double, and the Bobcats did their part with mistakes that kept the inning alive.

The Dragons added four insurance runs in the sixth inning as Carmical, Knuckles and McCurry each had hits.

Harlan (4-10) returns to action tonight at home against Knott Central. Bell County (11-6) travels to Claiborne, Tenn., on Thursday.

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Bell County 420 100 0 — 7 6 8

Harlan 010 074 x — 12 9 6

Estes, Collett (6) and Wombles; Varney, Carmical (7) and Knuckles. WP — Varner (2-2). LP — Estes.

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Bell County 100 362 5 — 17 11 9

Harlan 180 312 0 — 15 12 11

Jones, Wombles (2) and Smith; Robinson, Carmical (5) and Knuckles. WP — Wombles. LP — Carmical (2-2).