Helton tosses 2-hitter as Hounds down Harlan in regional semis

Published 9:34 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

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Corbin’s Bradric Helton pitched a two-hitter and pounded out four singles to lead the Redhounds to a 13-1 win over Harlan in the 13th Region Tournament semifinals Thursday at Knox Central.
Helton struck out 12 and walked two to earn the win in the six-inning game.
Noah Cima and Cam Estep each hit homers and added three RBI to lead the Corbin offense. Kade Elam and Clay Botner added two hits each for the 29-10 Hounds.
“Corbin’s a great baseball club,” Harlan coach Lee Freyer said. “They did a great job of playing small ball, then had a couple big hits against us. There are no easy outs in their lineup. We hung tough with them most of the game, but they had those two big innings.”
Jared Moore hit a second-inning homer for the Dragons’ only run. Aiden Johnson singled for the Dragons’ other hit.
“Jared had a big hit for us in the second. He’s been hitting well here lately.  I’m always happy for the guys when they get them a home run,” Freyer said. “Those aren’t near as common as they used to be.”
Baylor Varner pitched a complete game for Harlan, giving up 13 runs (11 earned) on 15 hits, with three strikeouts and three walks.
Harlan ended its best season in a decade with a 23-12 record and a 52nd District title. The Dragons bring back most of their key players with only three graduating.
“It’s not the ending we had hoped for, but we had a great season.  We did a lot of things people didn’t expect us to do,” Freyer said. “Maybe we opened some eyes as the season went along.  We thank the seniors for the time and sacrifice and now we look forward to next year.”
Green Dragons rally with 9-run fifth, advance to regional semis
Making their first 13th Region Tournament appearance since 2015, the Harlan Green Dragons may have been a tad nervous in an opening round game last Tuesday against Barbourville at Knox Central.
The Dragons found themselves down 7-2 midway through the second inning and 8-3 midway through the fourth before storming back with a nine-run fifth on the way to a 12-8 victory.
“We came out really tight and really tense tonight. It was one of those things where as a coach you just have a gut feeling that your guys are a little nervous,” Harlan coach Lee Freyer said. “Barbourville took advantage of that early on. We knew once we settled in and got our feet under us, we would comeback. This team, to be as young as they are, never gives up. Good teams find a way to win when they have to. “
With the Dragons trailing early, junior Jared Moore restored order and gave the Dragons a chance to rally as he allowed only one hit and one run over 5 1/3 innings, while striking out five and walking four.
“Jared Moore came in early in relief and pitched an awesome game tonight. I believe it was his best outing of the season. He kept Barbourville off balance, got ahead early in the counts, and really pitched well,” Freyer said. “Offensively, against a team like Barbourville, I feel like the early innings we fell behind in the count too much. They really like to work ahead as pitchers and get you to swing at their pitch. (Coach Brandon) Hilliard does a great job with his pitchers. They stay in attack mode when they are on the mound. “
Donovan Montanaro led Harlan’s seven-hit attack with a double and single. Luke Luttrell and Brody Owens each added a double. Eli Freyer, Jared Moore and Jake Brewer had singles.
“It was good to see Donovan hitting the ball like we know he can. His ankle still isn’t 100 percent and that affects his swing a little. He’s had to make some mechanical adjustments and he’s starting to find his groove again,” Freyer said. “Brody Owens really had some good at bats tonight. His two run double really provided us with a spark. Also, Luke had some solid ABs and kept us in it offensively early on. We talk about execution a lot as a team, and Jake Brewer laid down a great safety squeeze during our big inning. His bunt got the guys going in the dugout. We ran the bases well tonight. Jake had three steals to lead us there. He’s becoming a really savvy baserunner. He’s got good speed, but he’s starting to understand the game more on the bases. It feels good to not play your best baseball and still win. Now we have to get back to work and get ready for Corbin.”
Connor West led the 12-15 Tigers with two doubles and two RBI. Colby Peters drove in three runs with a double. Ty Clark and Brayden Sowders added singles.
The game was the first for the Dragons in the regional tournament since falling 10-0 to South Laurel in the 2015 semifinals. The Dragons defeated Barbourville 4-2 in a first-round game that season. Harlan also won in the first round of the 2007 regional, defeating Lynn Camp 10-3, before falling 7-6 to North Laurel in the semifinals.

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