Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Dominant pitching earns state berth for Remington

Leader sports editor

After two games in the American Legion AA Zone 3 tournament, Lonoke’s Remington Bullets have not yielded a run. In Friday’s first-round game, Mikey Shinn tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout to beat archrival Stuttgart 5-0. After two rain delays, Lonoke finally got back to action on Sunday, when Josh Mathis threw a duplicated Shinn’s performance with another two-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory over Clarksville.

“The pitching has been great,” Lonoke coach Steve Moore said. “Mikey has had a lot of outside obligations and just hasn’t been able to pitch much for us. But he stepped up and did a great job. Josh, the same thing. “He’s been a spot starter for us and he’s done really well when he’s been in there. But he was great on Monday. I’ve been confident in our hitting from day one and I was trying to save some of our pitching for later in the tournament. To get these performances from these two early on makes me feel really good going forward.”

The two wins set up a winners’ bracket final against the North Little Rock Colts that took place last night after Leader deadlines.

Both teams have secured at least a one or two seed in the AA state tournament that begins this weekend in Harrison.

In Friday’s game, Remington got one run in the bottom of the first inning, and that was all it needed for the win. Though the Bullets added three runs in the third and one more in the sixth, Shinn’s performance kept Stuttgart from every seriously threatening.

Shinn carried a no hitter into the fourth inning but gave up a leadoff single before retiring the next two batters on two infield pop ups.

After another base hit that left runners on the corners, Shinn struck out the next batter looking. He finished the game with three more hitless innings, striking out nine and walking four along the way.

Gage Johnson led the way offensively for Lonoke, going 2 for 3 with two runs batted in and two stolen bases. Lane Moore and Guy Halbert also got two hits apiece; one of Halbert’s went for extra bases while Moore drove in a run.

Blake Gooden, Madison James, Nick Watson and Pierce Johnson each added a base hit for Lonoke.

A single by Watson scored Moore in the first inning. James got things rolling for the Bullets in the third with a one-out double to right field.

Watson reached on an error. Shane Pepper hit a ground ball to shortstop. Stuttgart tried to get the out at second, but wasn’t in time, leaving everyone safe and the bases loaded.

Johnson then singled to right field to score James and Watson and leave runners on the corners. Christian James then hit a fly ball to centerfield, deep enough to score Pepper from third base and make the score 4-0.

In the sixth inning, Pierce Johnson reached on another error at shortstop, and scored two batters later when Moore doubled to left.

In Sunday’s game, Mathis fanned six and walked no one in his dominant performance. Lonoke’s bats were quite as lively on Sunday, but another good first inning, in which the Bullets scored two runs, was all Mathis needed to preserve the win.

Lonoke got five base hits, with one each coming from Gooden, Shane Pepper, Moore, Halbert and Zack Risner.

Clarksville committed just two errors in the game, but the first one proved costly. Gooden reached on a leadoff error at shortstop and advanced to second base on the play.

With one out, Moore singled to left field to score Gooden. Moore then scored on a double down the left-field line by Halbert.

The third and final run of the game came in the bottom of the third. Gooden hit a leadoff triple to right field, and scored on a sacrifice by Pepper to set the final margin.