Dragons complete sweep of Bell, take over first in district race


John Mark Bryson

Harlan completed a two-game sweep of Bell County and moved into first place in the race for the 52nd District’s top seed with a 4-3 win Tuesday.

“It was a great win tonight,” Harlan coach Lee Freyer said. “Bell County kept fighting. You have to give credit to (Bell County) coach (Clay) Carroll and his team.”

Senior right-hander John Mark Bryson gave up only two runs (one earned) over six innings to earn the win. He allowed four hits while striking out four and walking four. Evan Browning recorded a save as he gave up one run on one hit with one strikeout and two walks over the final inning.

“John Mark Bryson really stepped up on the mound tonight,” Freyer said. “He pitched his tail off for six innings. I think he had a no-hitter going into the fifth.”

Noah Lewis and Donovan Montanaro had doubles to lead the Dragons at the plate. Jaedyn Gist and Dawson Irvin added singles.

Jackson Walters led Bell with a double and single. Carter McCune had two singles.

Blake Burnett gave up four runs on four hits over six innings, with six strikeouts and four walks.

Gist gave Harlan a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning as he singled, then stole second and third before scoring on Bryson’s ground out.

Bell took a 2-1 lead before Harlan responded with three runs in the sixth inning. Montanaro doubled home Browning and Gist, then scored on errant pickoff attempt.

“Donovan Montanaro really came up clutch in the sixth with a timely hit,” Freyer said. “He’s been really focused at the plate and it showed tonight.”

The 8-7 Dragons will play at Cordia on Thursday. The 7-5 Bobcats don’t play again until playing host to Harlan County on Monday.

“We still have to clean up some mistakes and be more situationally aware. Errors lead to runs,” Freyer said. “I told the team in the bottom half of the sixth that if we put some hits together and take the lead, Evan Browning was going on the mound and he was going to shut them down.  He stepped up, and led the way a senior does.  

“Aiden Johnson had an absolutely phenomenal catch in left field to end the game. He had another last night to save a couple runs. I’m really happy for him. We just need to stay focused and keep grinding. There’s still a lot of baseball ahead of us.  The boys know that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We just have to keep grinding and get better every day.”


Bell County 000 011 1 — 3. 5. 2

Harlan 000 103 x — 4. 4. 4

Burnett and Walters; Bryson, Browning (7) and Lewis. WP — Bryson (2-2). LP — Burnett. Sv — Browning.