By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
After a rough start to the season, the Model Laboratory baseball team is starting to get on track.
The Patriots got a solid effort on the mound and at the plate from Jesse Middleton and picked up an 8-2 win over Rockcastle County Thursday in Richmond.
The win was the third-straight for Model (3-6).
“We are starting to pick it up,” Model coach Shannon Davis said. “Like I told the guys, it will get better. I’m just really proud of them.”
The Patriots weren’t even able to get on the field for the first week of the season because of weather problems and poor field conditions. Then they opened the year with six-straight losses — a stretch in which they were out-scored 60-29.
But, Model swept a doubleheader Wednesday night at Barbourville to get the team’s first wins of the season, then put together a solid effort against Rockcastle County.
The Patriots trailed 1-0 early, then scored twice in the bottom of the first and took control with six runs in the third.
Middleton went the distance on the mound, allowing only three hits and four walks while striking out three.
“I only wanted to throw him three innings, but he told me, ‘Coach, listen. I feel good. I feel good I want to go some more. I want to go the full seven,’” Davis said.
Middleton allowed a solo home run in the first inning and an error allowed the Rockets (8-6) to score another run in the fifth.
The senior was also the offensive standout for the Patriots.
Middleton had three hits — two singles and a home run — and finished with three RBIs. He led off the third with a solo home run, then later added a two-run single in the inning.
“I feel like our team pretty much goes off his momentum and the way he reacts and responds to the game,” Davis said of Middleton. “If Jesse is on, pretty much the team is on.”
In the first inning, Middleton singled, Ray White walked, then Cody Jones delivered an RBI single. Trey Baker gave Model a 2-1 lead with a sacrifice bunt.
In the third, Middleton homered to center, Jones singled and scored, Baker walked and Tanner Thornsberry singled. Joseph Hampton and Turner Curtis both drew bases-loaded walks before Middleton ripped a shot just inside the third base line that scored two more runs.
White walked twice and scored a run, A.J. Hammons had a single, Jones had two hits and scored a run, Baker walked twice and Jared Adams scored a run.
Model is set to return to action Saturday at Bethlehem.