Cooper dominates in win over Harlan with one-hit, 18-strikeout performance


Kim Henson

Harlan County sophomore Tristan Cooper struck out 18 and allowed only one hit as the Black Bears defeated Harlan 11-2 on Monday.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

It’s way too early to mention sophomore right-hander Tristan Cooper in the same sentence as Jared Sizemore, Tyler Boggs and Connor Leisge as one of the all-time pitching greats at Harlan County High School.
For one night, however, Cooper was as dominant as anyone in a Black Bear uniform as he pitched a one-hitter with 18 strikeouts and three walks as Harlan County (3-5) coasted to an 11-2 victory.
“I told him pitching is easy when you get ahead, and that’s what he did,” Harlan County coach Drew Chamberlain said. “He came out and just dominated the last four or five innings by getting ahead. He has the confidence and mentality to be able to step out there on the mound and handle any situation.”
Senior second baseman Josh Swanner led Harlan County’s 12-hit attack with three singles and two RBI. Jonah Swanner added a double and two singles with one RBI. Karsten Dixon had a double and single. Brayden Blakley added a double. Nate Shepherd, Isaac Kelly, Zac Collett and Will Cassim contributed one single each.
“We were able to string some hits together, but I still feel we left some runs out there a couple of innings by not executing,” Chamberlain said. “We made some mistakes early in the game, but we were able to swing the bat pretty well overall.”
Leadoff hitter Jeremiah Mills had the Dragons’ only hit with a sharp single up the middle to begin the game. The Dragons scored two runs in the inning with the help of two HCHS errors.
Kelly’s RBI single gave the Bears a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before Harlan came back with two in the bottom of the inning.
Josh Swanner and Collett reached on bunt singles to open the third inning, then Swanner scored the tying when when Kelly was safe on an error.
Blakey and Jonah Swanner opened the fourth inning with doubles. Shepherd drove in one run with a ground out, then Josh Sweanner singled home another run for a 4-2 lead.
Dixon and Cassim opened the fifth inning with hits. Blakley’s ground out brought in one run and Jonah Swanner singled home another for a 6-2 lead.
Two errors and an RBI double by Dixon pushed the Bears’ advantage to 8-2 in the sixth inning. A wild pitch allowed an earlier run to score in the sixth.
Evan Browning, the second Harlan pitcher, worked out of a jam with two strikeouts. Jared Moore started on the mound and gave up eight runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
John Mark Bryson pitched the final inning for Harlan (2-5) and gave up three runs on two hits. Josh Swanner had an RBI hit in the inning and Kelly brought in a run with a sacrifice fly. Another run scored on a.wild pitch.
While the Bears were scoring runs in six of seven innings, Cooper was retiring Dragons in record fashion as he retired 16 of 18 batters at one point with only two hit batsman reaching base. Cooper walked one in the sixth inning and two in the seventh, the only three runners to reach in the final four innings. The Dragons didn’t hit the ball out of the infield after Mills’ single to start the game.
The two teams will play again on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Harlan County.
Harlan County 101 222 3 — 11. 13. 2
Harlan 200 000 0 — 2. 1. 8
Cooper and Kelly; Moore, Browning (6), Bryson (7) and Lewis. WP — Cooper (1-2). LP — Moore (1-2).

Harlan County first baseman Will Cassim took the throw from catcher Isaac Kelly to retire Harlan’s Shane Lindsey after his sacrifice bunt in the first inning on Monday’s game. (Kim Henson)