Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> NLR AA gets to state with two victories

Leader sports editor

The North Little Rock Colts AA team advanced to the winners’ bracket final of the Zone 2 tournament with wins on Friday and Monday in Heber Springs.

The Colts beat Pangburn 5-2 on Friday, getting a strong performance on the mound by Ty Houser.

On Monday, North Little Rock slipped away with a 4-3 win in 11 innings over White Hall. Trey Kimbrell was on the mound to start that game and struggled early. The Relyance Bank team scored three runs in the top of the first, and scored no more in the remaining 10 innings. Kimbrell went seven innings and shut White Hall down in the final six.

“I was very impressed with Trey,” Lonoke coach Brock Moore said. “He really struggled in that first inning keeping his pitches down. He was leaving them up and they were hitting it. For him to come back from that like he did, get his pitches down and shut a really good-hitting team down, that showed some mental toughness.”

Moore, who is also the NLRHS assistant coach, was no less impressed with Houser on Friday.

“In my opinion that was his best outing of the summer,” Moore said. “Jordan Reed pitched the eighth against White Hall and then Kolton Gardner came in and pitched the last three. None of those guys were really in our main rotation in high school. But our high-school starters played select ball and did some other things, and these guys have gotten a lot of time on the mound. Watching them grow mentally and physically like they have this summer has been really fun to watch. We’ve had a lot of guys get a lot better on the mound.”

The Colts had to get back into Monday’s game a little bit at a time, scoring one run in each of the third, fourth, sixth and 11th innings. Danny Mitchell is leading the team offensively in the tournament. He is 4 for 8 with a pair of doubles.

“He’s had a really good tournament,” Moore said of Mitchell. “We’ve seen some good pitching and he’s been on top of it.”

Relyance sent 6-foot-4, 210-pound David Sprinkle to the mound on Monday. Sprinkle has assumed the No. 1 position in White Hall’s rotation since Arkansas State signee Tyler Zuber decided to sit out the rest of the season to nurse a sore arm. Sprinkle threw in the high 80s throughout the game.

“He was good,” Moore said. “We never could get a big inning going but we executed well and we were able to manufacture enough runs to get back in it while Trey kept us close. It was just a good all-around effort.”