Jackets hold off South Laurel

Published 3:54 pm Thursday, May 10, 2018

Middlesboro completed the regular-season sweep over South Laurel on Thursday. The Jackets survived at seventh inning surge by the Cardinals and held on for a 5-4 victory to extend their region record to 10-5 (15-8, overall).

“We come out and jump on them, and I felt like we got relaxed. You can’t do that against anybody in our region or anybody on our schedule as far as that goes,” said Middlesboro coach John Smith. “I felt like we came out and stuck the ball pretty good. (Then) I felt like we sort of sit back and relaxed, and then we took that same mentality out in the field and started kicking it around. (We) pretty much let them back in the ball game.”

Joshua Arnold picked up the win on the mound. Through three innings, the lefty allowed only three hits and two runs while striking out three batters. Tyler McCullough earned the save after pitching the final four innings. During the stint, he allowed five hits and two runs.

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“I thought Josh threw well. He kept them scoreless for three innings,” said Smith. “Like I said though, we relaxed and let them back in the ball game (and) had to make a pitching change.”

The Jackets were paced at the plate by McCullough’s solo home run in the first inning. The senior shortstop ended the day 1-for-3. Jacob Mike tallied one run on two hits. Braden Ausmus ended the game with two runs on two hits.

For South Laurel, it was Reed Marcum who was consistent at the plate going 2-for-3. Dakota Salva, Landen Roark and Jared Woolum each scored a run on one hit. Ryan Anders scored after reaching on an error.

Salva earned the loss on the mound after pitching a complete game. He allowed five runs on six hits.

McCullough got Middlesboro started early with a solo home run to give them a 1-0 lead after the first. The Jackets built on that lead in the second scoring two more runs. Ausmus and Brad Short both reached first on singles before advancing on a balk.

Ausmus scored on an RBI double by Brandon Helton to increase the lead to 2-0. A sac fly by Shawn North allowed Short to score a run and widen the margin to 3-0. The inning ended when Helton got in a pickle and was tagged out at second.

South Laurel got on the board in the bottom half of the third. With two outs, a shallow shot to center field allowed Anders to score and cut the lead to 3-1. A fielding error at first base gave Roark the green light to cross home plate and narrow the deficit to 3-2.

After two silent innings, Helton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to increase the Middlesboro lead to 4-2 in the sixth.

The Jackets took a 5-2 lead in the seventh after Mike scored on the Ryan Callihan double with two outs on the board.

The Cardinals made things interesting in the bottom half of the seventh. South Laurel opened the at-bat with back-to-back singles. Salva scored on a fielder’s choice to cut the lead to 5-3.

With two outs, JJ Ramey scored on a fielding error to narrow the deficit to one run. Collier Elkins ended the game after catching a line drive for the final out.

Up Next

Middlesboro (15-8) travels to Clay County (18-9) at noon on Saturday.

South Laurel (6-14) was slated to play North Laurel (9-12) on Friday.

Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN