Harlan advances to Area 4 finals with win over Tri-City

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Harlan All-Stars pitcher Jesse Gilbert clearly subscribes to the first rule for success on the mound at any level of baseball — throw strikes.
Gilbert scattered four hits while striking out eight and walking none as he waited on his offense to come alive. Harlan did just that in the fourth inning, breaking open a close game with an eight-run explosion to seal an 11-1 win over Tri-City in the Area 4 Tournament at Huff Park.
“Jesse did a great job pitching. He throws strikes. I’m proud of him,” Harlan All-Stars coach Brad Shelton said.
Harlan been limited to two hits through the first three singles, both singles by catcher Grant Shelton, and was clinging to a 3-1 lead.
Andrew Vance, Win Cooper and Brody Brock drew consecutive walks to open the fourth inning, knocking out Kayden Adams. Hayden Cornett hit Gilbert with a pitch to force in a run, then Brayden Morris cleared the bases with a line drive to the fence in right that turned into an inside-the-park grand slam. Luke Luttrell followed with a rocket line drive to left for a triple that turned into a run when the Tri-City outfielder misplayed the ball. Shelton followed with a double, then scored on Zach Boggs’ single. Bryson Kelly walked, then Cooper singles and Brody Brock was hit by a pitch to load the bases Gilbert drew.a walk to force in a run that ended the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
Carson Clark led the Tri-City offense with a double and single. Adams, Cornett and Colbie Clay added one single each.
“We played decent outside of the two times we walked the bases loaded and they were cleared on timely hits. This is a much more capable team hitting wise than what they showed today,” Tri-City coach Stephen Creech said. “ I’m looking forward to playing Leslie on Saturday and bouncing back.”
Clark, the Tri-City ace, started on the mound but walked three of the first four batters he faced and was replaced by Adams. Harlan took a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Shelton singled in two runs and Boggs brought in another with a ground out.
Tri-City scored a run in the third inning as Adams singled and came home on Clark’s double.
Harlan will play Hazard/Perry for the Area 4 title on Saturday at 4 p.m. Hazard/Perry advanced with a 14-0 win over Leslie County in last night’s second game.
“We hit the ball well. I think we have a good team,” Shelton said. “I think we definitely have a shot to win it. We have 11 kids who can all play every position. I think the league did a good job of putting together the team this year.”
Tri-City 001 0 — 1. 4. 3
Harlan 300 8 — 11. 7. 2
Clark, Adams (1), Cornett (4) and Lloyd, Clark (3); Gilbert and Shelton. WP — Gilbert. LP — Clark.