Tuesday, April 19, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits drop league game to CAC

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits dropped their first conference game of the season and dropped to second place Monday with a heartbreaking, 7-6, extra-inning loss to Central Arkansas Christian at the Lonoke Ballpark.

The Mustangs scored twice in the top of the eighth on two Lonoke errors. Casey Martin took the mound in the eighth and walked the first two batters. He then got a pop up to first base and got the lead runner at third on a fielder’s choice. But two errors at shortstop by Dalton Smith allowed both runners to score and give the Mustangs a 7-5 lead.

Lonoke got its first three runners on base in the bottom of the eighth, but was only able to get one run across the plate.

Haven Hunter hit a leadoff single and CAC intentionally walked Martin, who has hit walk-off home runs three times this season. Savonte Rountree drew another walk to load the bases.

CAC’s Blake Fairchild took the mound for the Mustangs, and Kade Stuart hit a sacrifice fly that scored Hunter and moved Martin to third. Rountree held up, but later stole second on defensive indifference, leaving two runners in scoring position with one out.

Fairchild then struck out Gabe Rooney and Tallon Swint to preserve the lead and the win for the Mustangs (9-5, 6-0).

There was no score until the top of the third when the Mustangs posted a pair of unearned, two-out runs after Martin bobbled a ball at shortstop.

The lead grew to 5-0 in the fifth on two hits, three walks and a hit batter, but the Jackrabbits charged back to tie the game, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the seventh to force the extra frame.

Kameron Cole led off the fifth inning with a walk and Caleb Horton doubled. Hunter popped out in foul territory and Martin was intentionally walked. Rountree then singled to score two runners and leave two on. Stuart reached on an error at shortstop that also allowed Martin to score. Rooney then singled to score Rountree and pull the Jackrabbits to within one run.

Rooney and Swint each reached on errors with no outs in the seventh, and Smith drove in Rooney with a sacrifice grounder that tied the game at 5-5.

Lonoke out-hit CAC 7-6, but got little opportunity for the middle of its lineup. CAC intentionally walked Martin three times, and walked cleanup hitter Rountree twice.

Lonoke (10-6, 6-1) struck out 14 times, seven to starting pitcher Hunter Corbell. Braden Quesinberry threw two and two-thirds innings for the win and Fairchild faced the last three batters for the save.

CAC struck out 16 times. Rountree started on the mound for Lonoke. He gave up four hits and three earned runs while striking out 10 and walking three.

Ethan Holland struck out one batter to finish the fifth and Martin threw the last three innings to take the loss. He gave up no earned runs while fanning five and walking two.