Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Diamond Rabbits beat CAC, Newport

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Jackrabbit baseball team improved its record to 10-1 overall and 6-1 in 4A-2 Conference play with a 12-3 win over Central Arkansas Christian on Monday at North Little Rock’s Burns Park.

Lonoke didn’t waste any time putting runs on the board in the conference matchup. The Jackrabbits scored two runs in each of the first two innings of play, and scored seven runs in the third to build a comfortable 11-1 lead.

Nick Graves started the Jackrabbits’ monster third inning with a single to the left-field gap, and shortstop Christian James hit a line-drive single to the same gap the next at-bat.

With runners at first and second with no outs, Todd Pool came through with a stand-up double to deep left-center field, which drove in Graves and gave Lonoke a 5-1 lead.

Caleb Horton walked the following at-bat and right fielder Savonte Rountree singled to left field, which sent James and Pool across home plate, upping the Jackrabbits’ lead to 7-1.

Catcher Elijah Seigrist followed Rountree’s at-bat with a walk. That brought leadoff hitter Casey Martin back to the plate. Martin then hit a two-RBI double to left field, allowing Horton and Rountree to score for a 9-1 Lonoke lead.

Still no outs in the inning, the Mustangs made a pitching change, and Haven Hunter lined out to left field for the first out. Cody Martin singled to center field the next at-bat, which drove in Lonoke’s final two runs of the third to make it a 10-run game with the score 11-1.

CAC (2-11, 1-3) added what ended up being its final two runs in the bottom half of the third inning, and Lonoke scored the game’s final run in the top of the fifth to set the final score.

The Jackrabbits outhit the Mustangs, 14-4, and Lonoke did the better job in the field as well. The Rabbits did finish the game with two errors, but CAC had five, and Lonoke took advantage of those errors.

After scoring two runs in the top of the first, the second of which came on a two-out bloop single to center field off the bat of James, the Jackrabbits scored their two runs in the top of the second on one errant throw from behind the plate.

Lonoke had runners at the corners in that inning, with Rountree at third and Levi Ward, Seigrist’s courtesy runner, at first. With Casey Martin at the plate, Ward stole second base, and CAC catcher Tanner Weber came up throwing, but went to third base instead of second in an attempt to try and catch Rountree sleeping on the play.

Rountree would’ve been safe even if Weber’s throw had been on target, but the throw was low, and the ball bounced its way into left field as a result. Rountree easily scored, and for whatever reason, CAC left fielder Grant Wood had trouble retrieving the ball, and that allowed Ward to score as well.

Those two runs gave Lonoke a 4-0 lead at the time, and the Jackrabbits carried that momentum into the third inning, where they took complete control of the game.

“We took advantage of all the mistakes that they made,” said Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery. “They put on a lot of runners for us, and we came through with some hits whenever we needed to. Our kids did a good job of being patient at the plate, trying to get their pitch.”

Cody Martin earned the win on the mound. He threw the first five innings, giving up four hits and two walks, while recording a game-high five strikeouts.

At the plate, James and Graves led Lonoke with three hits apiece. The two Martins and Rountree also had multiple hits. They each had two.

The Jackrabbits bounced back from their first and only loss of the season to beat Newport 9-3 in an important 4A-2 Conference matchup on Thursday at the Lonoke Ballpark. Newport led much of the game, but Lonoke took advantage of the Greyhound pitchers’ struggles to find the strike zone, and picked up some timely base hits to earn the victory.

Cody Martin threw a solid six innings while James came through with a pair of late extra base hits to lead the Jackrabbits to the win.

The visiting Greyhounds led 3-2 after four-and-a-half innings, but the Jackrabbits rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth, and three more in the sixth to pull away for the victory.

Cody Martin drew a walk to start the big bottom five, followed by another walk by Graves. Cody Martin advanced to third on a passed ball, but Graves stayed at first. James then came through with his first big hit, a double to left field that scored Cody Martin and left Graves at third. After a strikeout by Pool, Graves and James scored when Horton’s ground ball to shortstop was fielded and thrown wild to first base, giving the Jackrabbits a 5-3 lead.

Rountree walked with one out before Seigrist hit a hard line drive right to the Newport left fielder. Casey Martin then drew a walk to load the bases, and Hunter drew a fourth walk in the inning to score Horton and cap the rally.

Cody Martin sat Newport down in order in the top of the sixth, and Graves drew yet another walk to start the bottom half of the inning. James came through with his second double to put two runners in scoring position, and Pool walked to load the bases. Horton walked again to score Graves and make it 7-3. Rountree then hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but James scored to make it 8-3. Seigrist then doubled down the third base line to score Pool and set the final margin.

Lonoke took the lead in the bottom of the first inning on three walks and a passed ball. Newport tied the game in the top of the second on a leadoff single, two stolen bases and a passed ball. The Greyhounds took their first lead in the top of the third on three base hits and a walk, but Lonoke tied it in the bottom of the fourth on a triple by Casey Martin and an error at shortstop.

The Greyhounds took their final lead on two singles and a walk in the top of the fifth.

Both teams finished with seven base hits, but five of Lonoke’s went for extra bases and the Jackrabbits walked 12 times.

Cody Martin gave up all seven hits and two earned runs in his six innings on the mound. He struck out seven and walked only two. James threw the final inning for the save.

The Jackrabbits will look to improve to 7-1 in conference play tomorrow at home against eStem, and on Friday, they’ll play a nonconference game at home against Mayflower. Both games are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.