It’s a classic case of “better late than never” for the Campbell County High School varsity baseball team, which has won four of its last four games this year after starting the season 0-15.
The Cougars finally beat Cumberland Gap last weekend after getting the Panthers on a neutral field during a tournament at Bell County, Ky.
Campbell County, which lost twice earlier this season to the Panthers, won Saturday’s tournament game, 6-3. Sophomore lefthander Justin Willoughby was credited with the victory after pitching the first 4 2/3 innings. He scattered five hits and struck out half a dozen batters.
Donnie Huddleston came on in relief and closed out the game for the Cougars.
“I think it showed a lot of character to come back and beat Cumberland Gap, which beat us twice this year. (Our players) stayed positive,” said Campbell County coach Brad Collette.
The Cougars jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first inning. Willoughby helped his cause when he drove in teammate Lance Webber with sacrifice fly. Chris Hutson drove in two runs with a base hit during the first inning while Andrew Dykes had an RBI single.
The Panthers got within 4-3 by scoring a run in each of the third and fourth innings. Seth Sharp (2-for-4) and Tanner Rutherford (1-for-2), both from LaFollette, combined for half of Cumberland Gap’s six hits.
Campbell County scored the last two runs of the game in the sixth inning. Billy Tindell and Webber each had an RBI. The Cougars collected nine hits: singles by Webber, Blake Potter, Dykes, Joe Goins (2-for-3), Tindell and Stephen Alley as well as a double by Willoughby.
Later Saturday afternoon, Campbell County defeated Claiborne County, 7-5, in another hotly contested tournament game.
Potter went the distance to earn the decision.
Despite being out-hit 10-6, the Cougars managed to win by making fewer mistakes than the Bulldogs. Claiborne County committed seven errors during the game while Campbell County had only two.
The Cougars fell behind 3-0 right off the bat, but rallied to tie the game in the middle innings. Campbell County finally got the lead in the sixth and kept it the rest of the way. Hutson, Tindell (double) and Potter each went 1-for-3 at the plate while Dykes and Willoughby were 1-for-2. Webber also had a base hit.
Hutson drove in two runs, Tindell, Potter and Willoughby one each.
“We had a lot of guys do a lot of things on Saturday,” said Collette.
“It was a pretty good team effort.”
Back-to-back wins helped ease the sting from a 13-3 tournament opening loss to host Bell County the previous afternoon. Dykes went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and an RBI in that game while Willoughby had a double and an RBI.
Campbell County took a 4-19 overall record into this week’s district schedule against Knoxville West and Hardin Valley.