Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe earns first state bid

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Post 91 O’Reilly Auto Parts junior American Legion team held a three-run lead heading into the last inning of Monday night’s Zone 3 tournament final in Maumelle, but in the bottom of the seventh, Central Arkansas Christian reeled off four-straight runs to win the championship game by the final score of 8-7.

Beebe’s appearance in the championship game came as a result of winning the Jacksonville half of the two-site bracket held over the weekend. Beebe won three-straight games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, beating Searcy, Jacksonville Blue and Cabot to advance to Monday’s final.

Pitching got the O’Reilly Auto Parts team to Monday. Five pitchers gave up three total runs over the weekend. Blaine Burge pitched a 3-0 shutout of Jacksonville on Saturday, and Geno Germer gave up a run in the first inning before holding Cabot scoreless for the final six on Sunday to earn a 2-1 win.

On Monday, Beebe led 7-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh, and although Post 91 starting pitcher Jacob Davis threw a gem for the first six innings, the Mustangs’ bats got hot in the seventh, and Beebe struggled with errors and miscues.

CAC’s Cade Huckaby walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh and three-hole hitter Braden Quesinberry was hit by a pitch the following at-bat. Tanner Weber loaded the bases the next at-bat with a single, and a hard-hit, infield single to third base by Hunter Corbell drove in Huckaby to make it a 7-5 game.

Still with no outs in the inning, Landon Stevenson reached base on an error at shortstop, and that allowed CAC to tie the game at 7-7 as Quesinberry and Weber scored.

The next at-bat and still with no outs, CAC’s Austin Holley drove in the game-winning run with a walk-off single. Corbell scored on the play.

It was an unlikely comeback by the Mustangs, which meant a disappointing end to the tournament for Beebe.

“We ended up giving up a lot of outs that we should’ve had,” said Beebe coach Michael Lawrence. “That hasn’t been typical of us in the last four or five games. We’ve been on a roll, and in the last four or five games, I think we may have one error in the last four or five games that we’ve played.

“So, it’s just one of those games that we came out and I think we were a little tired. We played nine games last week before Friday, and then started the tournament on Friday. So we’re pretty wore out and pretty tired.

“But, we’ve got to execute on ground balls and pop flies and things like that. It’s just uncharacteristic what we did tonight.”  

Even though Beebe lost the game, the O’Reilly Auto Parts team still qualified for the state tournament, which will begin Friday in Sheridan. Beebe will enter the tournament as a No. 2 seed. CAC will be a top seed.

Getting the opportunity to play in the state tournament is quite an accomplishment for Beebe, who’s never advanced to an American Legion state tournament in the program’s history.

“We get an opportunity to go play for the state championship,” Lawrence said, “which is the first time Beebe’s been able to do that in Legion baseball. So we’re still pretty proud.”
Beebe, playing as the visiting team, scored two runs in the top of the first inning to take an early lead, but CAC scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning to lead 3-2 after one.

O’Reilly’s tied the game at 3-3 in the third inning on a RBI single by Blaine Burge, then scored three runs in the top of the fourth to take a 6-3 lead. Beebe’s first two runs of the fourth were scored on a pair of passed balls that allowed J.T. Nickleson and Ty Searcy to score.

Beebe’s sixth run came on a Burge sac fly to right field that drove in Tyler Fowler, and in the top of the fifth, Beebe scored its final run of the game on a Fowler single to the left-field gap that drove in Searcy.

Joey Bond earned the win on the mound. He took over pitching duties early in the fourth inning with the score tied 3-3, and pitched the rest of the game. He gave up just three hits, no runs and recorded three strikeouts.

CAC outhit Beebe 12-8 Monday. Corbell led all batters with three hits, and Stevenson, Holley and Bond had multiple hits with two each. For Beebe, Searcy and Fowler led the way with two hits each, while teammates Carson McNeil, Burge, Alec Matlock and Hunter Lawrence had one hit each.