Boyd County catcher Jacob Barnwell admits he’s been struggling lately at the plate for the Huntington Hounds. Figures a game at Central Park breaks him out of his slump.
Barnwell went 3-for-4 with a game-high four RBIs to help the Hounds beat Ashland Post 76 13-0 on Monday at Ernie Chattin Field in the middle of Ashland’s Central Park.
The catcher was quick to admit that playing for the Hounds against good competion will hopefully lead him to a better future on the baseball diamond with games like Monday’s.
“This is the first good offensive game I’ve had in awhile,” Barnwell said. “I feel like if I put myself against better competition, when spring ball comes back around I’ll be better. You have a better chance to get looked at when you play in big tournaments like the Hounds do.”
For Huntington coach Caleb Stewart, who volunteers with Barnwell’s high school team Boyd County, he believes that the catcher’s future is bright.
“Jacob has been great behind the dish and throwing a lot of runners out,” Stewart said. “Offensively it seems like he’s on base every at-bat ... it seems like he always has a good at-bat with runners in scoring position. He’s played well for me this summer, and he’s got a lot of interest from colleges.”
Along with Barnwell, it seemed like every member of the Hounds saw the ball well. Huntington recorded at least a run in each inning and had 16 hits in the game.
The Hounds, who are on a 21-game win streak, started off the game hot by scoring seven runs in the first and at a point in the inning had five straight batters reach base on a hit.
And while the Hounds have played the entire summer with wooden bats, they used aluminum on Monday to get ready for a tournament this weekend.
“They got a little excited,” Stewart said. “(Post 76s’) Pitcher was leaving some balls out over the plate, and I got some guys who like it out there. We hit the ball well, and we’ve been hitting the ball well all summer.”
Another 16th Region player for the Hounds is Bath County’s Cable Wright. The future Morehead Eagle went 2-for-3 in the game and scored four times.
“He’s hit the ball well for me this summer and pitched the ball well for me this summer,” Stewart said. “There isn’t anybody who plays as hard as he does out there. I wish I had more kids like him. He’s a ball player, that’s for sure.”
The Sixers struggled on offense as they managed just one hit in the ball game. The hit came off the bat of Lewis County’s Sammy Holder.
They had trouble against Hounds’ pitcher Alex Hamilton, who played at Breathitt County High School and has signed with Eastern Kentucky.
Post 76 coach Mike Delaney said it was hard for his team against Hamilton, who throws consistently in the high 80s.
“He threw pretty well today and we obviously couldn’t do anything with it,” Delaney said. “We put the ball in play but it just wasn’t our day.”
The Sixers also weren’t at full strength, with Morehead signee Seth Boyle out with illness and Kentucky walk-on Logan Salow on vacation.
But with the district tournament coming to Central Park next week, Delaney said his team will be at full strength and ready for a run at state.
He’s hoping games against the Hounds, who feature several college players, will help get his team ready for tournament play.
“That’s why we play (the Hounds), to be ready,” Delaney said. “We’ll face teams at district and state that throw as well as Hamilton and we have to learn how to compete a little better than tonight.”
HUNTINGTON 531 12 — 13 16 0
ASH. POST 76 000 00 — 0 1 0
Hamilton, Barnwell. Hall, Robinson and Fritz. W — Hamilton. L — Hall. 2B — Kinker (H), Barnwell (H).