Harlan’s ‘Comeback Kids’ move on to district final four with victory over Knox


John Henson

Harlan All-Star Gabriel Helton scored a first-inning run off a wild pitch in District 4 Tournament action Thursday. Harlan took second in the East Division with a 16-9 win over Knox County.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Three comebacks led to three wins for the Harlan All-Stars in the District 4 East Division (ages 9-10) Tournament at Harlan, and that means a trip to the district final four next week.
Down 8-4 after three innings Thursday against Knox County at Huff Park, Harlan scored three runs in the fourth innings and took the lead for good in the fifth with five runs.
“They call us the Comeback Kids for a reason,” Harlan coach Steven Johnson said. “We came out a little sluggish, but they battle every pitch. I’m super proud of these kids. We’ve worked hard and accomplished one of our goals. We’d like to get one more.”
Brylee Southerland shut down the Knox offense over the final three innings, giving up one run on two hits with five strikeouts and six walks. Gabriel Helton pitched the first three innings, giving up eight runs on four hits with two strikeouts and four walks.
“Brylee pitched outstanding during this tournament. He’s been clutch for us,” Johnson said. “We’ve had good defense, but throwing strikes is where it’s at.”
Southerland and Seth Johnson had three singles and Judah Shope added a double and single to lead the Harlan offense. Helton, Maddox Linda and Landen Smith added one single each.
Brady Cobb led Knox with two singles. Brentley Asher had a double. Hayden Holbrook and Waylon Broughton added one single each.
Broughton gave up four runs on six hits in three innings on the mound. Eian Abner allowed five runs on two hits in.1 1/3 innings. Cooper Stacy allowed six runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Shope, Johnson and Helton led off the game with hits as Harlan grabbed a 3-0 lead. Knox scored two in the first inning and four in the second to take the lead.
Southerland and Landa had hits in the third as Harlan cut the lead to when Smith walked with the bases loaded.
Southerland had an RBI single in the fourth inning and Bryson Mills brought in a run with a ground out to cut the Knox lead to 8-7.
Johnson and Smith had RBI hits in Harlan’s five-run fifth. Three straight Knox errors also helped.
Shope started a four-run sixth inning with a single. Southerland added an RBI single. A wild pitch and throwing error led to two more runs.
Knox was its own worst enemy in the bottom of the sixth inning, breaking the cardinal rule of baseball by having two runners thrown out on the bases facing a seven-run deficit. Harlan third baseman Brantley McArthur retired both base runners, one on a throw from Johnson at catcher.
Harlan will play North Laurel on Tuesday in the losers bracket of the District 4 Tournament at Harlan. Corbin will play Hazard in the winners bracket finals on Tuesday. The loser of the Corbin-Hazard game will play the winner of the Harlan-North Laurel game on Wednesday with the winner there advancing to the finals on Thursday against the Corbin-Hazard winner.
Harlan fell 12-0 to Hazard/Perry on Wednesday in the East Division championship game.
Seth Johnson and Brylee Southerland had singles for the only two hits for the Harlan All-Stars.
Watts led Hazard with a triple and single. Logan doubled twice. Combs had a double and single. Gayheart and Carter added two singles each.
Knox County advanced to the second-place game with a 9-3 win over Pineville/Bell.