Cougar Baseball District Runner-ups
The Rector Cougars will take on the Hillcrest Screamin' Eagles for the third time this season at 12:30 Friday afternoon in the 1A-2 regional baseball tournament at ICC. After dropping the previous meetings, the boys in blue will be looking for redemption with a spot in the upcoming 1A state tournament on the line. The contest had been set for Thursday, but was backed-up due to rain.
The Cougars earned the spot in the regional with a 3-2 win over Bay in the semi-finals of the 1A-3 district tournament at Armorel on Friday. Senior Hunter McNeely got the start and the win, pitching his second no-hitter of the season in the process. Working the full seven innings, McNeely yielded no hits while walking three and fanning 11 of the Yellowjackets. Both runs scored were un-earned. On April 11, McNeely threw a no-hitter at Ridgefield Christian in the Cougars 8-1 conference win. Earlier in the season Nic Mesa no-hit Marmaduke as well.
In the win over Bay, Mesa went 2 for 3 with an RBI; Frank Herrera was 2 for 2 and McNeely helped his own cause with a 1 for 2 day and an RBI.
The win over Bay earned the Cougars a place in Saturday's final at Armorel, which went to the host Tigers by a final of 12-0. They had advanced over Ridgefield Christian in the semi-final round.
This gave the Cougars the number two seed from the district, and the first round match-up with Hillcrest at this week's regional. The Yellowjackets beat the Warriors in the third-fourth place seeding games, setting their spots in this week's bracket as well.
With a win over Hillcrest, the Cougars will advance to take on the winner of the Viola-Ridgefield Christian game at noon on Saturday. The Longhorns are the favorites as they come in with a record of 28-1, their only loss coming at the hands of the Manila Lions in tournament play at Batesville. The bottom half of the bracket has Armorel taking on the host ICC Cougars while Bay draws Mammoth Spring. Those winners meet at Saturday afternoon in the other semi-final. The championship game and seeding contest will follow, and all four of the top teams advance to next week's state tournament being held at Mountain Home Parks and Recreation.
The regional and state brackets may be followed online at the Arkansas Activities Association website at www.ahsaa.org