Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SPORTS>>Beebe wins for a berth into Baum

Leader sportswriter

History will be on the line when Beebe plays Monticello in the 5A state championship on Friday.

The Badgers beat the Sylvan Hills Bears 9-1 in the semifinals at Monticello on Monday and put themselves in position to win their first state championship in a boys sport since 1941. First pitch is at 2 p.m. at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

Beebe (24-7) made a record-setting run through the 5A state tournament with a first-round victory over Greenbrier and a second-round triumph over ForrestCity to set up a showdown with 5A-Southeast Conference rival Sylvan Hills in the semifinals.

Beebe punched its ticket to Baum Stadium with its fourth victory in four tries this year over tradition-rich Sylvan Hills, which has won seven state titles and played for multiple others.

“I’m very proud of these young men,” Beebe coach Mark Crafton said.“They’ve worked their rear ends off since the start of the season. I appreciate their hard work and the family atmosphere we have with this team, since we are together day-in and day-out. We also managed to make a little history along the way.”

Beebe’s last boys state championship was in basketball in 1941.

The baseball team overcame a 1-0 deficit to take a 3-1 lead in the third inning Monday and added five insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bryson Scott earned the victory on the mound, striking out six batters while allowing only four hits.

Ace pitcher Griffin Glaude picked up the save with five strikeouts, two walks and no hits allowed.

Tanner Ball went 2 for 2, Glaude was 2 for 3 with a double and Jared Ashbrenner went 2 for 4. Sylvan Hills used up most of its pitching in the opening two rounds and faded on the mound despite a pair of pitching changes.

“The defense was pretty solid,” Crafton said. “We got out of a jam in the fourth inning, and we doubled up on them in the fifth to get out of another one. Bryson Scott had a key strikeout there in the fourth, and we had a big play in the fifth with runners on first and second.

“Defense was a big key in this win, that and pitching.”

Beebe was in contention to win its first conference title until Monticello swept the Badgers 3-1 and 16-12 to close out 5A-Southeast play earlier this month.

It is often said that it is tough to beat a team three times in one season, but since Beebe beat Sylvan Hills four times, Crafton doesn’t put much stock in the old saying.

“Sometimes it’s that way, but that’s four times we’ve played Sylvan Hills and beaten them,” Crafton said. “That’s a rare feat in baseball, especially when you’re talking about a team of Sylvan Hills’ stature. They’ve won state championships in the past, and have a lot of tradition. That itself is a testimony to the effort of these young men.”

Given the two close losses to the Billies, Crafton is not looking to make many changes to prepare for Monticello on Friday.

In his fifth year at Beebe, Crafton is simply looking for mistake-free play from his team.

“We have to have quality at-bats and play solid defense,” Crafton said.

“We’ll throw our No. 1 – they will probably throw their No. 1. We have a lot better understanding of what we’re up against this time.”