Friday, April 14, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke falls to second with split

Leader sports editor

Three teams were tied for first place in the 3A/4A 9th District when Lonoke went to Central Arkansas Christian for a doubleheader on Wednesday. Now only one remains, and neither of the two teams competing in North Little Rock.

The Jackrabbits and Mustangs split their twin bill, with Lonoke winning game one 2-1 and CAC taking the nightcap 6-2. That left both teams with two conference losses, and left Mayflower along at the top of the standings with only one.

Kade Stuart pitched a gem for Lonoke in game one. He went the distance, giving up just two base hits with five strikeouts and two walks. CAC’s lone run was unearned.

Despite the effort on the mound, the Jackrabbits still had to rally in the last two innings to come from behind for the win.

The Mustangs’ second and final hit of the game came in the fifth inning. It was followed by back-to-back errors, one at second base and one in right field that led to CAC’s 1-0 lead.

The Mustangs (13-6, 10-2) returned the favor in the top of the sixth. Daulton Smith hit a leadoff single before Haven Hunter flew out to right field and Stuart struck out. Smith stole second base during Tallon Swint’s at-bat. Swint then hit a grounder to second base that was flubbed by Hugh Miller, allowing Smith to round third and tie the game.

Stuart sat CAC down in order in the bottom of the sixth, and Lonoke scored the game-winning run in the seventh, thanks largely to a pitching change.

While Lonoke had only scored once, it had put at least two runners on base in four of the first six innings, and forced starting pitcher Braden Quiesenberry’s pitch count to rise. He was replaced by Blake Fairchild, and Fairchild struggled with control.

He walked Greg Lingo to start the inning before striking out Christian Cooper. He then walked Kameron Cole and Casey Martin to load the bases with one out. Smith then singled to center field to drive in the winning run. Lonoke failed to give itself any cushion, however. With the bases still loaded and one out, Hunter struck out and Stuart flew out to center field to end the threat.

Stuart walked Davis Gatling with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but he never reached second base. A pop fly and a groundout preserved the win for Lonoke.

Martin and Smith had two hits apiece to lead the Jackrabbits.

Lonoke (12-9, 8-2) was again scoreless after five innings in game two, but this time the deficit was six runs instead of one, though only three were earned.

The Mustangs scored two unearned in the first inning and one more in the fourth. They added three earned on two walks, two doubles and a single in the fifth inning for the 6-0 lead.

Lonoke’s two runs came on a single by Stuart, a double by Lingo and a CAC error in the sixth inning.