Jackets eliminate Bell County from tourney

Published 10:23 pm Monday, May 21, 2018

For almost six innings, Bell County battled for their life when they played Middlesboro in the opening round of the 52nd District Tournament. The Bobcats ran out of gas in the sixth and the Jackets took advantage tallying five runs en route to a 7-0 victory.

With the win, Middlesboro has punched their ticket to the 13th Region tournament while advancing to the district championship game. Bell County ends the season after improving leaps and bounds for a year ago.

“This is all about Middlesboro. Middlesboro’s got a fantastic team. McCullough’s on the mound. I mean you have to tip your hat to them,” said Bell County coach Robbie Landrum. “They’ve got a good team. I hope they win it all. Most people don’t want to hear that, but if you want to get beat by the best I want to see them win it.

“We’ve got a bunch of juniors, if they want to come to work. We got a shot at this thing next year. I keep telling them that. We still ain’t where we want to be, but we’re crawling. You’ve got to crawl before you can walk and run. So, hopefully they will buy into it.”

For Middlesboro, the victory continues a three-year run of making it to the 13th Region Tournament.

It was Tyler McCullough’s performance on the mound that led the team. In his final game throwing at home, the senior allowed only one hit while shutting out the Bobcats. He struck out 13 batters on the night.

“(Tyler) was emotional before the game. It’s his last game pitching at home. He’s been with us for six years,” said Middlesboro coach John Smith. “He went out and had one of the best performances he’s had for us in those past six years. He just went out and blew them away.”

At the plate, the Jackets tallied four hits. Chase Elliott paced the effort going 2-for-3 with one run and two RBI. Brad Short led the team with two runs.

For Bell County, DJ Estes tallied the only hit of the night. He also led the team from the mound pitching 5 2/3 innings while allowing only four hits during the game.

“I hope he makes All-District because he deserves it,” said Landrum about Estes. “DJ threw great tonight.”

Middlesboro jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second with runs from Chris Callihan and Short.

Bell County held the Jackets off the scoreboard until the sixth inning. With two outs, a fielder’s choice and two hit-by-pitches led to the Jackets loading the bases. A two-run double by Elkins increased the lead to 4-0.

Elliott stepped up to the plate and smacked a two-run triple to balloon the lead to 6-0 before eventually scoring on a passed ball to secure the seven-run victory.

Up Next

Middlesboro (19-11) advances to the district championship against Harlan County (11-11) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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