Baseball Tribe Second in District, Draw Melbourne in Regional
The Piggott Mohawks fell in the district championship game Monday afternoon at Walnut Ridge. The Tribe had earned their spot in the finals, and a spot in this week's regional in Harrison, by way of a pair of gutsy wins in the quarter and semi-finals. They'll take on the Melbourne Bearkatz in first round play on Friday afternoon with both the semi-finals and finals on Saturday in Harrison.
Senior righthander Joel Burrow threw five strong innings and Layne Sims blasted a grand slam homerun to propel Manila to the 11-2 victory over Piggott in the finals.
Burrow allowed just three hits and two earned runs while striking out four batters to claim the victory. Sims clobbered his second bases loaded homer of the season, highlighting an eight-run Lion fifth inning that broke open a one run game.
The Lions got on the board in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Brock Birmingham led off the inning with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. Birmingham scooted home on Brady Clark’s RBI groundout.
The Mohawks evened the game, scoring a run in the top of the third. Holden Tarno walked and rode home on Dylan Bellers’ ringing double off the left field fence.
The Lions answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Michael Parker led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Hunter Vuletich. Jeremiah Perez attempted a sacrifice bunt. Mohawk pitcher Josh Lyman threw to second for the force out, but the ball bounced into centerfield, allowing both runners to be safe. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Birmingham followed with a sharp line drive the opposite way just inside the left field line for an RBI, scoring Vuletich. Michael Jorgensen’s RBI groundout to short scored Perez, giving Manila a 3-1 lead after three innings of play.
Piggott sliced the Lion lead to a single run, 3-2, in the top of the fifth. Luke Boyd drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second. A groundout moved Boyd to third where he scored on a Burrow wild pitch.
Manila once again found an answer to a Piggott score, this time exploding for eight runs in the bottom of the frame. The first five tallies came off Piggott relief pitcher Dylan Bellers. Perez started things with an opposite field single. Bellers then plucked Birmingham with a pitch before walking Jorgensen to load the bases. Clark stepped to the plate and hammered a fast ball off the left field fence, scoring two runs and giving Manila a 5-2 advantage. Bellers walked Burrow to juice the bases once more, sending the Mohawk righthander to the showers. Abraham Lopez greeted Piggott reliever John Jones with an RBI single to center, pushing Manila’s lead to 6-2. Sims then crushed a John Jones pitch deep over the left field fence to increase the Lion lead to 10-2. Birmingham added a sacrifice fly in the inning to cap off the eight-run rally, giving the Lions an 11-2 lead.
Abraham Lopez came on in relief of Burrow and threw an inning and two thirds of shutout ball to close out the game.
Lyman absorbed the loss, pitching four innings, allowing three runs on just two hits while striking out four. Bellers allowed five runs, all earned, on two hits, while Jones gave up three runs on two hits.
The Mohawks had advanced out of the first round of the district with an 11-1 win over Riverside the previous Monday. Senior Josh Lyman got the start and the win, holding the Rebels to just a single run. The victory earned the Tribe a second round game with Walnut Ridge, and a spot in the regional tourney.
The contest with the Bobcats turned into an old-fashioned pitcher's duel, as Piggott's Hayden Lemmons and Walnut Ridge's Cole Manning went head-to-head. Both held the other team scoreless into the late innings before surrendering to relief pitchers. Lemmons worked seven and two-thirds innings, giving up seven hits but no runs while striking out six and walking four. Dylan Bellers came on and got the final out of the bottom of the eighth, then provided the heroics at the plate in the top of the ninth with a two-run double to break the deadlock. The junior right-hander then took care of business in the home half of the inning, giving the Tribe the win 2-0. Holden Tarno paced the Mohawks at the plate on the day with a 2 for 3 performance.
With the two-seed from district, the Mohawks will take on third place Melbourne at 5:30 Friday at Harrison. Ironically, the Tribe visited Melbourne for the season opener back in late February and beat the Bearkatz 6-2. With a win, they'll take on the winner of the Clinton-Walnut Ridge game Saturday in the semi-finals, and will earn a berth in the upcoming state 3A tournament being hosted by Smackover-Norphlet. In the upper half of the bracket, Manila draws Yellville-Summit and Corning takes on Valley Springs. Those winners will also meet in the semi-finals, and advance to state. Corning won the battle of the Bobcats in the other district semi-final on Monday, beating Walnut Ridge 9-8 in the third-fourth place seeding game.
The complete regional and state brackets may be found on the Arkansas Activities Association website at www.ahsaa.org