Tuesday, April 11, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke squeeze beats Beebe

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits got a solid nonconference win Friday, coming from behind to beat rival Beebe 7-6 at Lonoke Ballpark. Both teams were saving key starting pitchers for upcoming conference games, and the Jackrabbits got a stellar performance from sophomore Will Roark. The sophomore threw the final three innings, giving up just one base hit while the Jackrabbits rallied from a 6-3 deficit.

“Will is a junior varsity second baseman who hasn’t really played any varsity,” said Lonoke coach Chris Foor. “He’s played, I think, one varsity game, but he came in and did a great job. He worked all three pitches anytime in the count, really kept them off balance.”

Foor also says Roark is his best bunter, and he stepped to the plate in the perfect situation in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out and runners at first and third, Foor called for the safety squeeze and Roark laid it down perfectly. Kade Stuart walked in for the winning run without a throw.

“We had a runner at first so they had to hold him on,” said Foor. “I knew if (Roark) could get it down we’d score, and he executed. He had a great game.”

Despite having to rally for the win, Lonoke led 2-0 after one inning. Casey Martin bounced the first pitch of the game off the fence in center field for a leadoff triple. Hethen scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Daulton Smith.

Haven Hunter then singled and reached second on an error. Stewart walked before Tallon Swint hit into another error that scored Hunter for the 2-0 Lonoke lead.

Beebe (5-14-1, 1-5) scored one in the top of the second after Logan Sharp drew a leadoff walk. Three batters later with two outs, Jacob Rogers hit an RBI single to left field.

The Badgers took the lead in the top of the third with three runs. Nine-hole hitter Hunter Lawrence drew a leadoff walk, followed by another BB by Carson McNeil. Blaine Burge singled to drive in one run, and another two scored when Sharp’s hard grounder to third base was mishandled and rolled into shallow left field.

Lonoke (12-8, 7-1) got one back when Hunter got hit by a pitch, and later scored on another Beebe error, but Beebe scored two more for a 6-3 lead in the top of the fourth.

Lawrence hit a leadoff single to start the fourth inning. It was the first batter Roark faced, and the only hit he allowed. McNeil reached on an error in left field and Burge was to load the bases. Bryson Halford later singled for a pair of RBIs.

The lead didn’t last long. Lonoke tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Kameron Cole reached second base on an error at third to start the rally. Martin walked and Smith was hit to load the bases. Hunter was then hit for the second time in the game, driving in the Jackrabbits’ first run of the inning. Stewart then smacked a two-RBI double to left field to make the score 6-6.

Neither team scored in the fifth inning. That set up Roark’s game-winning RBI bunt in the sixth before he sat Beebe down in order in the seventh. He struck out the first two batters before getting a can of corn to center field for the final out.

Stewart went 4 for 4 with a double and scored one run. Martin went 1 for 1 with a triple, was hit once, intentionally walked twice and scored two runs.

Beebe’s 7-8-9 hitters got three of the team’s four base hits. Rogers, Halford, Lawrence and Burge got one hit apiece for the Badgers.

Lonoke has a critical conference doubleheader at Central Arkansas Christian in North Little Rock scheduled to start at 4 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for Monday but was postponed because of rain. The Mustangs are also 7-1 in the 3A/4A District 9. The games will likely determine the top seed in the 4A-2 Conference tournament.

Beebe plays a nonconference game at Pulaski Academy on Thursday.