PAINTSVILLE — The Belfry Pirates suffered a loss to the top ranked team in the 15th Region, Johnson Central, on Tuesday evening with a final score of 8-0 after five innings.
The game was called early because of lightning, then the rain moved in abruptly and made it clear that no baseball would continue in Paintsville on Tuesday evening. The Pirates were forced to take the loss and Johnson Central added another win to their overpowering record. The Pirates have hit a rough patch over the last two weeks with three straight loses to solid opponents. Unconfirmed reports have hinted that Belfry’s veteran pitcher and clean-up hitter, Austin Dotson, has departed from the team. The Pirates will definitely be hindered by Dotson’s departure as they are left with a young bullpen and an empty spot in the batting lineup.
Johnson Central dominated in the game with one tw0-run home run by Geordon Balnton and four RBI’s. Kaleb Taylor had the Pirates only hit with a single.
Avery Browning and Taylor remain the top two pitching options for the Pirates with other veteran players left to pitch when necessary. Browning is a freshman and Taylor is an eighth grader. Freshman Matt Fought has also entered the bullpen scene after a solid performance during the Jim Vaughn Invitational.
The Pirates cannot be counted out yet, with seven scheduled games remaining in the regular season. One thing about any Belfry team is that the kids can be coached, and that gives hope that the Pirates can repair the ship before the district tournament begins where they will face rival Pike Central in the opening round. Belfry leads the area in batters on base after being hit by a pitch. The Pirates starting lineup does not run out of the batters box when the pitch is thrown inside, this is almost a certainty with young developing hitters. The Pirates raise their shoulder and tuck their head giving them a free trip to first base with a bruise as a souvenir. This is an extremely useful but often over-looked aspect of the game of baseball. The Pirates take the pitch to the body and trot immediately to first base with shouts echoing from their dugout saying, “wear it!” Any player who can be coached to stand their ground in the batters box has the mentality to be coached as necessary to produce offense.
Heading forward the Pirates have a tough schedule with Magoffin County on Thursday, Letcher County Central on Friday and a rematch with Jackson City on Saturday. The Pirates faced Jackson City in the season opener and won with a final score of 3-1. With the Pirates losing streak growing; another loss will not be favorable in the over-all rankings of the region.
Next week, the Pirates will try to squeeze in four more games with opponents such as East Ridge, Pikeville and Sheldon Clark. The Pirates have defeated all three teams earlier in the season and that should be a good time for Pirates Head Coach Micheal Hagy to rearrange his line-up to the best available with Dotson out of the picture.
The Pirates will head into district and regional tournaments with a young and still developing bullpen. Belfry’s veteran pinch runner Keilan Carr may be first in line to fill Dotson’s place on the field and in the lineup.
Scores by inning:
Belfry (17-11) 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 2
JC (22-8) 2 2 3 1 0 — 8 7 1
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)