Saturday, March 15, 2008

SPORTS >>Falcons shake off rough start

Leader sports editor

Head coach Robbie Walker might have known his North Pulaski Falcons weren’t on the top of their game when his first batter made a base-running error.

Shortly thereafter, the defense began to kick it around and the Falcons found themselves down 3-0 to a Little Rock Hall team comprised almost exclusively of freshmen and sophomores.

But the Falcon hitters finally began to time the painfully slow offerings of the Little Rock Hall starter and eventually pulled away for a 7-3 win on Tuesday at Dupree Park.

“Hall had just got their basketball players back from the state tournament and their coach decided not to throw their best pitcher,” Walker said. “Their first two pitchers were throwing around 60-65 miles per hour and we were way out in front.

“In the third inning, we started taking advantage of the field being wet and started hitting.”

A.J. Allen went 3-of-4 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and two runs scored. Freshman Zach Roman was 2-of-2 and also scored twice as North Pulaski improved to 3-4.

Allen led off the bottom of the first with a soaring double to the fence in centerfield. But he was easily cut down trying to stretch it into a triple. By the time the Falcons collected their second hit, they were in a 3-0 hole, thanks mostly to some shoddy defense.

The first Warrior run came around in the third inning via a walk, two stolen bases and a throwing error to third base by catcher Daniel Thurman.

“[Third baseman Roman] probably should have knocked that down,” Walker said. “That wasn’t all that bad a throw. But that was his first time playing third base and he also went 2-of-2. He’s going to be a good little ball player, along with two other freshmen, Alex Lister and Chris Williams.”

The Warriors began a two-out rally later in the inning on two singles, a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, and a misplayed double to left as Hall took a 3-0 lead.

North Pulaski batters started showing patience against the soft-throwing Hall starter in the third. Though Brandon Davis lined out to left to open the frame, Roman lined a single to right and came around on Allen’s second double of the game.

Williams’ bunt single scored the aggressive Roman all the way from second. Thurman followed with an RBI double to center to knot it at 3. Thurman reached third on a passed ball and scored on a balk. Alex Lister later delivered an RBI single to give NP a 5-3 lead.

The Falcons padded the lead on singles by Roman and Allen with one out in the fourth. Roman later scored on a throwing error by the catcher, while Allen trotted across on a passed ball to make it 7-3.

Other than Will-iams’ bunt single, the Falcons struggled bunting on Tuesday. Bunting, Walker said, will play a big factor in his team’s fortunes this season.

“We’ve got some kids that can bunt,” he said. “We’ve worked on that all year. I’ve told them, if you want to play for me you have to be able to bunt. We’re going to have to play small ball this year.”

North Pulaski totaled nine hits, while Falcon pitching limited the Warriors to just four.

Steven Swaggerty pitched the first two innings. Alex Lister pitched two-thirds of an inning in the second before Eric Oldnettle came in to record the third out. Oldnettle picked up the win.

Trevor Gray pitched the sixth, and Williams the seventh for North Pulaski.