By KYLE LOVERN
PIKEVILLE, Ky. – The Paintsville Tigers upset the Belfry Pirates 11-6 Thursday night in the semi-finals of the 15th Region tournament played at Davis Park in Pikeville.
Paintsville jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning after starting pitcher Zac Fields walked Tim Sublett and then gave up three straight doubles.
The Tigers got two-baggers from Kash Daniel, Jordan Stewart and Colby Burchett. Burchett’s was a ground rule double that bounced over the right field fence.
After a 50-minute rain delay Belfry jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the top of the 2nd inning with a nice 6-run rally.
Zac Fields started out the rally with a single to right field. Keaton Taylor came in as a courtesy runner and Jared Masters smacked a double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd base. Then Keegan Fields hit a long ground rule double (the ball appeared to have went out for a home run) and he knocked in Belfry’s first two runs.
Eli Huddle followed with an infield single. With runners on 1st and 3rd base, Reed Williamson slashed an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3. Zack Francisco then singled home Williamson to give the Pirates the 4-3 lead. Tyler Williams then beat out an infield single after hitting the ball deep in the hole at shortstop and Williamson scored.
Joey Duty reached on an error by the shortstop and Francisco scored to make it 6-3. But that would be all the runs Belfry would get.
Tiger pitcher Colby Burchett held the Pirates scoreless for five more innings. He pitched a complete game, striking out nine Belfry batters and did not issue any walks, but he did hit one batter.
Masters came in to relieve Zac Fields and had some control early problems. A couple of bases on balls and a fielder’s choice loaded them up for Paintsville. Tim Sublett then smacked a base hit to right field for a couple of RBIs. The ball was misplayed and another run scored for the Tigers to tie the game at 6-6.
Stewart then singled to left field to bring in another run for the Tigers. Sublett scored to give Paintsville a 7-6 lead. They would not relinquish that advantage. Burchett cracked a double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Then catcher Gabe Burchell smacked a double to bring home to more runs. Paintsville followed Belfry’s 6-run rally with six runs to take a 9-6 lead after just two innings.
Paintsville played add-on with a run in the bottom of the 4th frame and added an insurance run in the bottom of the 5th inning.
Burchett got some solid defensive play and what some Belfry fans thought was a wide strike zone for the Pirate batters to shutout the Pond Creek boys the final five innings.
Tyler Williams came in to pitch the final 2 2/3 innings for head coach Michael Hagy.
Belfry got two runners on in the 5th inning when Kego Fields was hit by a pitch and Huddle got his second hit of the night. But a double play dampened that potential rally.
Duty got a 2-out single in the top of the 7th inning, but that was he was stranded as Burchett got the last out for the Tigers.
Paintsville came into the game with a 14-16 record and improved to one game under .500 with 15 wins. They are scheduled to play for the regional title this evening at 6:00 p.m. facing the winner of the late game between Pikeville and Johnson Central.
Belfry finishes the season at 25-9, a school record for the most wins in a season. Unfortunately the Pirates season ended earlier than they would have liked.
Masters suffered the loss for the Pirates. Paintsville collected 12 hits off of three Pirates pitchers.
Score by innings:
BHS …. 060 000 0 – 6 9 1
PHS …. 360 110 x – 11 12 2