Friday, April 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers split two with Bruins

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Badger baseball team split its 5A-Central Conference doubleheader with Pulaski Academy on Tuesday at Gillam Fields in Beebe. The Badgers dropped the first game 9-7 before lighting up the Bruins 17-0 in game two, thanks to 15 base hits and a no-hitter from Arkansas Razorback signee Angus Denton.

In game one, Pulaski Academy (7-7, 3-1) jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead in the first two innings of play. The Bruins scored one run in the top of the first before reeling off six more in the second to take the seven-run lead.

Beebe (5-11, 4-2) didn’t get things going until the fifth inning. In that inning, the Badgers scored four runs and added three more in the bottom of the seventh to set the final score. They had a chance to win it with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but a fly out to right field ended it in PA’s favor.

“That first game, we played maybe an inning and a half of baseball, the way it’s supposed to be played,” said Beebe coach Mark Crafton. “When you spot a team seven runs off of just mental errors and you have the physical errors on top of that, it’s hard to bounce back.

“In high school baseball, sometimes you have those good comebacks and sometimes you don’t, and we just ran out of time. We had opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on those opportunities.”

John Finley started on the mound for Beebe in game one, and pitched well, but the defense struggled to make plays behind him and it took too long for the Badger bats to get going, and in the end, the Bruins’ seven-run cushion was too much to overcome.

“I tell you, John Finley pitched an outstanding game,” Crafton said. “We just didn’t do anything offensively or defensively to back him and I hate that for him. Being a senior, his last few outings he’s been outstanding. We just haven’t given him any run production.

“We’re young and we’re kind of learning the game as we go and trying to find the right mix. Game one was a lot different than game two. The kids play completely different when they have Angus on the mound and I don’t understand that.”

Beebe played as the visiting team in game two, and Denton was given a four-run cushion before he threw a pitch. Carson McNeill hit a one-out single to center field to start the first-inning rally.

Denton reached on an error at third base the next at-bat. Finley followed with a double to drive in McNeill and Johnathan McGhee drove in runs two and three with a single to center field.

McGhee advanced to second base on a passed ball and scored two batters later on a two-out single by Alec Matlock, which put the Badgers up 4-0. Beebe’s most productive inning came in the top of the second. The Badgers scored six more runs in that inning to push their lead to 10-0.

Nine-hole hitter JT Nicholson led off the second inning with a bunt single, and he advanced to second base on the same play because of an errant throw to first. Leadoff hitter Hunter Naramore was hit by a pitch the next at-bat, and McNeill singled after that to load the bases.

Denton was then plunked on the first pitch of his at-bat, which gave him an RBI as Nicholson scored for a 5-0 Badger lead. Finely followed with a two-RBI single to left field that upped the Beebe lead to 7-0, and McGhee and Bryson Halford walked the next two at-bats. Halford’s walk was with the bases loaded, which allowed CJ Cauldwell, Denton’s courtesy runner, to score for an 8-0 BHS lead.

Blaine Burge drove in the next run with a 6-4 fielder’s choice, and Nicholson made it 10-0 with a two-out single to right field, scoring McGhee. Beebe added a pair of runs in the third and fourth innings before putting three more across the plate in the fifth to set the final score of game two.

Halford walked to lead off the fifth and Matlock reached on a dropped fly ball in right field the next at-bat. Halford advanced all the way to third on the dropped ball and Matlock went to second on the same play. Halford and Matlock scored shortly after and Beebe scored its last run of the night on a sac fly to left field by Denton.

Pulaski Academy’s Jacob Andersen reached on an error at shortstop in the bottom of the seventh to give the Bruins a base runner, but Will Hart popped into a 1-3 double play to end the game early because of the sportsmanship rule.

Denton finished the no-hit outing with nine strikeouts and just one walk. McNeill led Beebe at the plate in game two, going 4 for 4 with four singles. Finley was 3 for 3. Nicholson was 2 for 3 and Naramore, Denton, McGhee, Halford, Matlock and Hayden Crafton had one hit each in game two. Denton led Beebe with three hits in game one.