Greyhounds race into 3A state tourney semi-final
At 11 p.m. Friday, Trent Smith came to the plate for the fifth time on the night. It was the bottom of the eighth inning of the 3A State Tournament opening round against Pea Ridge at Searcy.
Smith had already been on the mound for the full game, having faced 32 batters and was visibly tired.
Every bit of that tired look drained from him, however, when he slammed a pitch into right field, scoring third baseman Dexter Jordan from second for the 4-3 win.
"I can't say enough about Trent," said coach Larry Willis following the game. "We made some errors, but we fought back to take the win in eight."
The game between the Greyhounds and the Blackhawks didn't start until 8:30 p.m., an hour after the scheduled beginning. And then for two innings it looked as if the game was going to be a defensive battle as, between them, Smith and Pea Ridge Pitcher Travis Parsons fanned six of the first 12 batters.
In the top of the third, though, with two outs, Smith walked Parsons, who then went to second on a bunt by Dustin Woodard. Parsons then came home when first baseman Randon Webb dropped a shot into center field for a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning Ray Taylor hit a two-out single into right, then went to second on catcher Kyle Huckabay's walk. Jacob Mason then came in and slid the ball past first to score Taylor to tie the game 1-1.
After neither team was able to get a run in the fourth, Pea Ridge scored two runs to go up 3-1.
First, shortstop Cory Trevathan went to first on an error. Then Parsons reached first again when he was hit by a pitch. Woodard then came up and singled into left field to knock in Trevathan and send Parsons to third. Webb then reached first on a fielder's choice to put Woodard out at second when there was no time to get Parsons out at home.
Smith ended the short rally when he fanned Drew Rosser to end the inning.
The Greyhounds couldn't get anything going in the bottom of the inning. Likewise, the Blackhawks came out of the top of the sixth scoreless, even though Marmaduke had to force an out at home to stay down by only two runs.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Hounds tied the game when first Jordan then Smith reached base on singles into left field. Josh Upchurch then moved both of his teammates around a base on a 5-3 sacrifice. Andrew Dulaney scored Jordan with a hit over second base. Then when Dulaney forced a throwing error by stealing second, Smith took advantage and went home to tie the game, 3-3.
The top of the seventh saw the Blackhawks once again get men on second and third. The Greyhounds shut them down, however. Then when the Hounds themselves went three-up and three-down, the game went into the eighth inning.
Again the Blackhawks showed why they had a advanced to the state tournament when they put men on first and third. With two out, Parsons made an attempt to steal second, but Huckabay threw to Taylor at shortstop for the tag moving the game into the bottom of the inning for the final fireworks.
Smith got the win, giving up three runs on seven hits and eight walks while striking out 10. He also went 2 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Dulaney finished 2 for 3 with an RBI while Jordan went 2 for 5 with two runs scored. Taylor and Upchurch were both 1 for 3 with Taylor scoring and Upchurch getting an RBI. Mason went 1 for 4 with an RBI.
"We're now in the final eight," concluded Willis. "It's been a long time since we were in that position."
The win put the Hounds in against Mayflower, which defeated Prescott 5-2 Friday.
Marmaduke 18, Mayflower 2
If the game between the Greyhounds and the Eagles had been played during the regular season, Marmaduke would have had the mercy rule invoked after the third inning when they scored their 10th run. Unfortunately for Mayflower, games in the state tournaments have to go at least 4 ½ innings. As a result, Marmaduke got even more of a blow-out win, defeating the Eagles 18-2 in the second round of the 3A State Tournament to go into Monday's semifinal game with Lincoln at Searcy.
Willis was surprised with the ease in which his team had dispatched the Eagles.
"Prescott was one of the favorites to win the tournament," said the coach, "and Mayflower beat them. Needless to say I was surprised at how easy it was. We pitched our number two (pitcher) like everyone else and I guess our number two was just a lot better then their's."
The Greyhounds' "number two" was Jordan, who gave up the two runs on four hits and six walks while striking out four.
Mayflower went to the plate first and looked immediately as if they might make a game of it when, after an opening K, first baseman Tyler Bolanos walked, then made it to second on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Jesse Grace. He then took third on a passed ball.
The scoring threat ended, however, when third baseman Daniel Addie hit into a 6-3 play ending the inning.
It was clear that something might be brewing when the Greyhounds went to bat in the bottom of the first inning. They only scored two runs, one each Taylor and Huckabay, but went almost through the order with only DH Dustin Ellis not batting.
In the top of the second, the Eagles once again loaded the bases, but couldn't produce a run. And then the flood gates opened.
Starting with Ellis, the Grey hounds punched across six runs to make it 8-0 before Dane Barnum hit into a 4-3 out to end the inning.
Adding salt to the wound, Bolanos opened the third inning for Mayflower by drawing a walk. Then after Grace struck out, Addie hit into a 4-5-3 double play to push the inning into the bottom half. And once again the Hounds were off and running, scoring five more runs for a 13-0 lead.
The Eagles finally got on the board in the top of the fourth when leadoff hitter Shane Fowler walked, went to second on a passed ball then to third on a sacrifice fly by Josh Raney. Finally, he went home on a Tyler Cagle single to close the gap to 13-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, Marmaduke added another five runs to go up 18-1 before the inning came to a close.
Knowing they had to score eight runs just to keep the game going, the Eagles weren't flying too high. They did manage to tack on one more run, but the game ended, mercifully, moments later, 18-2.
Taylor led the offense, going 4 for 4 with four runs and an RBI, Mason followed with a 3 for 4 day including a home run, three runs scored, two doubles and four RBIs. Huckabay, Jordan and Upchurch also went 3 for 4. Huckabay also had three runs and a double, Jordan two runs, a double and an RBI, and Upchurch two runs and two RBIs. Smith went 2 for 4 with three runs, Dulaney 2 for 4 with one run and two steals, Ellis 1 for 4 with one run, and Marcus Smith had two runs.
The win put Marmaduke into the semifinal with Lincoln Monday afternoon.
"They're going to be tough," said Willis of the Wolves who, including the two wins in the state tournament, have won 11 consecutive games. "But we're down to just four teams."