Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke falls to Hot Springs Village

Leader sportswriter

Lonoke’s Remington Bullets saw their season come to an abrupt end Friday after a hard-fought 7-5 loss to Hot Springs Village in the quarterfinals of the American Legion AA state tournament at Bryant High School.

Hot Springs Village (7-17) scored six of its seven runs in the first inning despite having just two hits in the inning. Lonoke (15-15) threw three different pitchers during that time, walking five batters and hitting another, which gave Hot Springs Village too many opportunities to put runs on the board.

“I think when we showed up we just weren’t ready to play,” said Lonoke coach Steve Moore about the rough start. “We couldn’t get out of that first inning, and it really ended up being the difference in the ball game.”

The Bullets settled down both in the field and at the plate with Shane Pepper on the mound. Pepper took to the mound with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, and didn’t give up a run in his four and one-third innings of work.

Lonoke started to chip away at the six-run deficit in the third and fourth innings, scoring two runs in each to make the score 6-4. Right fielder Reid McKenzie singled to start the third, and scored three batters later when Guy Halbert reached base on an E6.

Pepper scored Lonoke’s second run on a ground ball from clean-up hitter Lane Moore. Catcher Deric Herring drove in the third run for the Bullets on another E6 in the fourth. The throw was out of first baseman Dillon Brown’s reach, and Christian James scored after singling up the middle to start the inning.

McKenzie walked after James’ single, and after advancing to third on the previous E6, McKenzie scored on a passed ball at the plate to cut the deficit to two. The Bullets were held scoreless in the fifth, but added another run in the sixth to make it a one-run game.

Pepper hit a one-out single to right field in the inning, and Herring followed with a stand-up double to left. Halbert drove in Pepper the next at bat with a chopper to third base. Lonoke looked as if it was destined for yet another comeback after five and a half innings.

However, Hot Springs Village added an insurance run its next at bat, and Lonoke went three up, three down in the top of the seventh to set the final margin. Even though it was a disappointing end to the Bullets’ season, Moore will only remember it as a success.

“It was a great season,” Moore said. “I’m really proud of all of them. They all worked hard, and we won a lot of baseball games. They all had a great attitude, and I got a great effort out of all of them. I expect to see a lot of these guys play college ball.”

Pepper and Herring led Lonoke at the plate as each went 2 for 4, while Moore, McKenzie, Christian and Madison James also had a hit.