Fast strong, strong finish help Bell edge HCHS to complete sweep

Published 8:14 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Brought to you by Harlan County Sports.

Bell County scored the first five runs but then needed to score the last two to hold off Harlan County 8-6 last Tuesday to complete a two-game sweep of the Bears.

The Bobcats capitalized on the wildness of Harlan County starter Josh Duckworth to score five in their opening at bat with the help of five walks and one single. Freshman Zayden Casolari came in to restore order, giving up three unearned runs over six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Jesse Gilbert recorded the final out with one strikeout and one walk.

Email newsletter signup

Sophomore catcher Joseph Brigmon carried the Bell offense with a double and two singles in three at bats. Brayden Carroll and Brody Hensley added one single each.

Cooper Brock, a sophomore, gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and three walks. Carroll, an eighth grader, earned the win as he allowed only one hit over 1 1/3 innings, with two walks and one strikeout.

Mason Himes and Isaac Kelly each had two hits to lead the Bears. Will Cassim added a double. Aiden Craig drove in three runs and scored two as he singled and walked twice. Tristan Cooper and Samuel Henson added one single each.

After picking up one run in the second inning on Craig’s bases-loaded walk, HC broke through with three in the fourth inning. Henson and Himes opened with singles, then both scored on Craig’s hit. Creech added an RBI single to make the score 5-4.

Carroll singled and scored on Brigmon’s double in the sixth to push the lead to 6-4, but the Bears answered and pulled even on Kelly’s two-run, two-out hit after HCHS loaded the bases as Craig walked, Gilbert was hit by a pitch and Cassim walked.

Brock walked to open the seventh inning, then moved to second on Blake Burnett’s bunt and scored when Holden Clark was safe on an error. Clark scored when Creech made a wild throw to first on Carroll’s ground ball.

HCHS put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Carroll got Gilbert on a pop up in foul territory to third base.


Bell County 500 001 2 — 8. 5. 2

Harlan County 010 302 0 — 6. 9. 3

Brock, Carroll (6); Duckworth, Casolari (1), Gilbert (7) and Kelly. WP — Carroll. LP — Casolari (0-2)


Bobcats clinch district’s top seed

Already known as one of the region’s top quarterbacks in the fall and guards in the winter, Bell County sophomore Blake Burnett has joined the list of the 13th Region’s elite pitchers.

Burnett scattered five hits last Monday as Bell County clinched the 52nd District’s top seed with a 3-0 win over visiting Harlan County. He struck out 10 and walked only one.

“Blake was lights out tonight, probably as good as I’ve seen him this year,” Bell County coach Jeff Sziksai said. “He was really efficient with under 100 pitches and had command of his pitches. They had a hard time squaring him up. He was just masterful tonight.”

Burnett won a pitchers’ duel with Harlan County’s Tristan Cooper, who gave up only four hits but struggled with command at times as he walked six while striking out eight.

“Cooper was equally good tonight,” Sziksai said. “We got a few bounces that went our way tonight and put a little pressure on them. We were able to scratch a few runs, but their guy matches Blake pretty much. Two guard arms there, and we were fortunate to get a couple more than them.”

Harlan County made three errors and each led to one of the Bell runs.

“We made some mental errors tonight that hurt us,” Harlan County coach Scotty Bailey said. “We have to be better.”

Cooper Brock and Burnett had one-out hits in the opening inning, then scored on consecutive infield errors by Will Cassim and Aiden Craig for a 2-0 lead that stood up until the sixth inning.

Austin Goodin singled with one out, then Brody Hensley walked. Daniel Thomas laid down a bunt that Cooper fielded, and his throw to third was in time for a force out but Gunner Burkhart dropped the ball before recording an out, allowing the final run to score.

Brock, Burnett, Thomas and Goodin had singles for the 11-4 Bobcats, who have won six straight. The Bobcats were 4-25 a year ago.

Jesse Gilbert, Samuel Henson, Cooper, Isaac Kelly and Alex Creech had hits for the 11-9 Bears, who fell to 3-2 in district action.

Harlan County had its best scoring opportunity in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs as Creech singled and Cooper walked before Mason Himes hit a shot to center that Thomas caught near the fence.

“We hit the ball well in Tennessee on Friday with 20 hits in two games, but we watched too many strikes go by tonight. We know that, but for some reason we were guessing today,” Bailey said. “There is no excuse for it. If we have the right mindset we can win some games. Hats off to Burnett for throwing a great game tonight though. We had runners in scoring position, and we have to produce in those situations. I have to figure it out.”


Harlan County 000 000 0 — 0. 4. 3

Bell County 200 001 x — 3. 3. 1

Cooper and Kelly; Burnett and Brigmon. WP — Burnett. LP — Cooper (4-3)