Friday, May 11, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Bison find way to win in playoffs

Leader sports editor

Carlisle got the benefit of several Danville errors and got an excellent performance on the mound by Tommy Inman. It all added up to a 4-2 victory in the quarterfinal round of the class 2A state tournament at historic Taylor Field in Pine Bluff.

“We got a little lucky,” Carlisle coach B.J. Greene said. “What it boils down to is we got a little lucky. But we found ways to force the issue and make them make plays. We weren’t very good at the plate until late when we finally decided to be hitters and stay back on the guy. Once we did that, we got some breaks to go our way.”

The Little Johns took 2-0 lead with two runs in the top of the third inning, one off a Carlisle error at third base.

Danville nine-hole hitter Jay Trusty singled to right field to start the inning. Leadoff hitter Grant Cathey hit a grounder to third, but Trey Wilson’s throw was wild, leaving runners safe at second and third. Caleb Short walked to load the bases. During Drake Penzo’s at bat, Inman threw a wild pitch high over catcher Deric Herring’s arms to allow Trusty to score from third. Penzo then singled to left field to drive in the only earned run of the game.

Carlisle then chipped away. With the help of Danville errors, the Bison got a run in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth.

In the fourth inning, Herring singled to shortstop and Deron Ricks singled to centerfield to put runners on first and second. Josh Mathis followed with a high fly ball to shallow left field where Danville’s Jeffrey Spikes dropped it.

Carlisle’s runners were tagging, but were forced to run after the drop. Spikes picked up the ball and threw to third, but his throw was off the mark. The two errors left everyone safe. Herring then scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-1.

Spikes committed another error in with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Inman hit a line drive that Spikes misplayed, allowing Inman to get to third. He then scored on a towering two-RBI double to the warning track in left-centerfield by Wilson.

More Little John errors in the sixth put Carlisle ahead and gave Inman the lead he needed to seal the win in the top of the seventh.

Again with two outs, Austin Reed started a rally when he was hit by a pitch. Hayden Hoover then hit a ground ball to short, but Danville’s Bret Wilkins throw sailed high over first baseman Daniel Parker’s head. That allowed Reed to score easily. Hoover rounded second and was on his way safely to third when Parker’s threw home trying to get Reed, but his throw sailed out of the field of play, giving Hoover a free walk home and setting the final margin.

“Give Austin Reed credit,” Greene said. “On a slow curveball inside, you stand in there and let it hit you. We needed a base runner and he got on base. That’s what you do.”

Danville began to rally in the top of the seventh. Jay Trusty reached on an error by Mathis at first base. Cathey then singled to left to put runners at first and second with one out. Inman then got Short to hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and preserve a semifinal berth for the Bison.

In round one, the Bison faced down one of the most dominant pitchers in Arkansas. They struck out 13 times, but prevailed 5-4 against Gurdon.

Go-Devil Zach Gooding, a 6-foot, 4-inch southpaw, struck out 18 of the 21 batters he faced in his last outing, but in striking out 13 on Thursday, he also gave up seven base hits and four earned runs as the Bison found a way to touch him.

Carlisle held a 4-1 lead heading into the final inning but lost it due to a couple of errors and a timely base hit by the Go Devils.

Carlisle pitcher Trey Wilson, who went the distance, didn’t get rattled and retired two batters to get out of the jam with falling behind.

Carlisle won it in the bottom of the same inning. Hart got the rally going with his third base hit of the game, an infield single up the middle.

Inman bunted him over to second for one out. Trey Wilson then drove a single to left field that scored Hart for the game-winning run.

“We found a way to squeak it out,” Greene said. “He struck us out quite a bit, but we got some key hits. Chris Hart really forced the issue on them. He got on base every at bat and made them deal with base runners.”

Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, freshman designated hitter Dylan Brazeal got a two-RBI single that made it 4-1. Earlier in the game Deric Herring got an RBI double that drove in the first run of the game.

Wilson gave up just four hits in the win on the mound.

The Bison, (27-5) played the winner of Thursday’s late game between Marmaduke and Danville on Friday. A win in that game means a semifinal game at noon today for a chance to play in the state championship game next week at the University of Arkansas.