Kelly’s homer sends Bears to win at South Laurel


Kim Henson

Harlan County catcher Isaac Kelly, pictured in action earlier this season, hit a two-run homer on Tuesday to give the Bears a 3-1 win at South Laurel.

Sophomore catcher Isaac Kelly hit a two-out, two-run homer in the sixth inning to break a tie and send Harlan County to a 3-1 victory Tuesday at South Laurel.
This was a huge win for us,” Harlan County coach Scotty Bailey said. “We have a tough week this week. Facing three top region teams (South Laurel, Whitley County and North Laurel) in the same week is never an easy week but the boys went into this game with the right mindset. We’ve showed it all year we can play with some good teams and now the boys are finally seeing that and finishing games and believing in each other. I’m really proud of them.”
Tristan Cooper gave up only one unearned run over six innings on the mound to earn his fourth win in five decisions. The sophomore right-hander struck out 11 and walked four while giving up six hits. Brayden Blakley earned the save, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning after a double by Harrison Byrd followed by a one-out error and a two-out walk.
“Cooper threw heck of a ball game. Once he gets in his zone he’s tough up there,” Bailey said. :”We battled all game long and finished a game. That’s what I’m most proud of is finishing a game.”
Harlan County took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Will Cassim’s two-out RBI single to drive in Jonah Swanner, who was hit by a pitch and stole second.
South Laurel tied the game on a bases-loaded walk following a two-out error.
Alex Creech walked to open the sixth inning for the Bears before Kelly’s blast to left.
Brayden Blakley and Creech also had hits for the Bears.
“Coming through with runners in scoring position has been huge for us lately, especially with two outs,” Bailey said. “Will’s RBI in the first scoring Swanner from second was huge. That was with two outs. That’s doing a job. Issac came through huge for us with his homer. He had been getting jammed all night not getting a good swing on it, but that last at bat he was disciplined and swung it well. Off the bat, we knew it had a chance. I was happy for him.”
Byrd gave up three runs on two hits over six innings with 11 strikeouts and one walk. Cole Harville allowed two hits in one inning on the mound.
It was the seventh win eight games for the Bears. The win may have also been Harlan County’s first over South Laurel since defeating the Cardinals in the 2013 regional semifinals.
Harlan County (8-15) will play host to Whitley County on Thursday and travel to North Laurel on Friday. South Laurel (12-17) plays Thursday at Wayne County against McCreary Central.
Harlan County 100 002 0 — 3. 4. 3
South Laurel 100 000 0 — 1. 6. 0
Cooper, Blakley (7) and Kelly; Byrd, Harville (7) and Smith. WP — Cooper (4-1). LP — Byrd.