Monday, July 01, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> NLR AA defeats Rayburn at Burns

Leader sportswriter

Tuesday’s matchup between North Little Rock’s AA American Legion team and Pangburn was tied at four apiece after four innings of play, but the Colts scored five unanswered runs over the next two innings to beat the visiting Rayburn Sporting Goods team 9-4 at Burns Park.

Each team finished the game with seven hits, but North Little Rock had the more timely hits. Pangburn (15-5) led 4-2 after two innings of play, but the Colts scored two more runs in the bottom of the third to tie up the score until the fifth inning.

Two-hole hitter River Warnock walked to lead off the third, and three-hole hitter Preston Oberling followed with a towering two-run home run over the left-field wall that tied the game. It was Oberling’s second hit of the game.

“We started off a lot more focused than we were in Conway,” said North Little Rock coach Tim Dulin. “We came out hitting the ball a little better. I think the key was we stayed focused on playing the game, because in Conway we were a little bit too relaxed. Especially after we took the lead, we started playing good fundamental baseball.”

The Colts scored all the runs they would need in the bottom of the fifth. Leadoff hitter Danny Mitchell started the inning with a hard-hit double down the left-field line. Warnock followed with an infield single to shortstop.

Mitchell and Warnock advanced to second and third base on a passed ball with Oberling at the plate. Oberling struck out during his at bat, but the third strike got by Pangburn catcher Alec Bourgieous. Mitchell scored on the passed ball and Oberling made it safely to first base, while Warnock advanced to third.

Warnock also scored on a passed ball to put NLR up 6-4, and Oberling scored the final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by cleanup hitter Zac Rathburn. The Colts kept Pangburn off the board its next at bat and followed with two insurance runs in the sixth inning to set the final score.

Catcher Reed Shepard reached base on a 4-6 fielder’s choice, and Colton Naylor followed with a single up the middle. Warnock drove both base-runners in two batters later with a two-out bloop single to right field.

Winning pitcher Ty Houser walked Pangburn three-hole hitter Sidney Owens to begin the top of the seventh, but struck out cleanup hitter J.R. Miller the following at bat.

Chase Hopkins then came to the plate and hit a hard line drive near first base, but first baseman Dustin Blair reached out and caught the ball in the nick of time and stepped on first base for the unassisted double play that ended the game.

“We had good pitching tonight,” Dulin said. “Trey Kimbrell threw real well. He threw 80 pitches. We brought Ty in, which will be another senior, and he was a little rusty at first, but when he got warmed up he started throwing strikes.”

Warnock and Oberling led North Little Rock at the plate with two hits each, while Mitchell, Naylor and Kimbrell had one hit apiece.