Tuesday, May 02, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke loses a stunner in finals

Leader sports editor

A rollercoaster seventh inning left Lonoke sitting at the bottom last Friday in the championship game of the 4A-2 District tournament. CAC scored three runs in the bottom of the last inning to win the game 6-5, win the tournament and take the No. 1 seed into this week’s East Regional.

With the scored tied 3-3 going into the final inning, Lonoke’s Casey Martin hit the team’s second home run of the game, driving in Kameron Cole, who had hit a leadoff single, and giving the Jackrabbits a 5-3 lead.

Lonoke got two more singles with no outs and was on the verge of a huge inning. Kade Stuart then hit a fly ball to right field for the first out. Daulton Smith tagged and beat the throw to third base, but Hunter Haven was thrown out trying to make it to second base for the 9-5-4 double play.

Tallon Swint then popped up to shortstop to bring a sudden end to what started as a potentially huge inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Lonoke’s Ryan True-love walked Hunter Corbell before Stuart replaced True-love on the mound. Stuart fanned Cade Huckeby before Tanner Weber singled to put runners on first and second.

Braden Quesinberry then sent the first pitch he saw over the fence in right-center field for a walk-off, three-run home run.

“It was definitely a crazy game,” said Lonoke coach Chris Foor. “You just have to give credit to their kid. He had been all pull, so we thought we had a good plan to get him out. We put the pitch right where we wanted it, he just made a great adjustment and went the other way with it.”

It was the third meeting this year between the two teams. They split the regular-season series, and all three games have gone to the wire.

“It’s just two very good, very competitive baseball teams,” Foor said. “We could probably play 20 times and be pretty close to .500.”

Lonoke was the three seed coming into the tournament, but demolished sixth-seeded Baptist Prep and second-seeded Heber Springs in the first two rounds. CAC (19-7) was the top seed and beat eStem 13-0 and Southside-Batesville 6-4 in the first two rounds.

Lonoke (18-11) scored first in the top of the third inning when Haven Hunter smashed a 1-1 pitch over the wall in straightaway center field for a 3-0 lead.

Cole and Smith had each singled before Hunter’s home run.

The Jackrabbits gave two back in the bottom of the same inning. Hunter walked two batters before two errors allowed two unearned runs on no hits.

The Mustangs tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a pair of two-out base hits: A single by Grant Wood and a double by Corbell.

Lonoke out-hit CAC 7-5. Hunter and Smith each went 2 for 3. Weber went 2 for 4 to lead CAC. Corbell got the win, despite only pitching the seventh inning and giving up the lead.

Hunter pitched six innings for the no decision, giving up just three hits and one earned run with six strikeouts and three walks.

The Jackrabbits will face Brookland (15-10) at 4 p.m. Thursday at Trumann High School in the first round of the East Regional.

The winner not only advances in the tournament but qualifies for the state tournament that will be at Lonoke next week.

CAC opens the tournament at 10 a.m. Thursday against Highland. The winner of that game will play at noon Friday against the winner between Harrisburg and Heber Springs.

The Lonoke-Brookland winner will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of Jonesboro-Westside vs. Southside-Batesville.