Tuesday, May 02, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe dominates Pats for state bid

Leader sports editor

A huge first inning at the plate and a stellar performance on the mound was enough to give the Beebe Badgers a surprisingly easy time with Parkview in the first round of the 5A-Central Conference tournament Monday at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood.

The four seed vs. five seed looked like an even matchup on paper, but Beebe blew up for eight runs in the opening inning.

Pitcher Hayden Crafton kept the Patriots off balance through five innings to secure a 10-0 win that advanced the Badgers to the semifinals and qualified them for the Class 5A state tournament next week, which will also be held in Sherwood.

“I’m not only proud as a coach but proud as a father,” said Beebe coach Mark Crafton. “Hayden’s been doing that all year, putting us in position to win. We had two errors. When we keep it under three or four, with him on the mound, we win our ball games.”

Exploding in the first inning was also helpful, allowing thedefense to play relaxed the rest of the way.

“We had a plan going to the plate, and we stuck with it,” Crafton said. “We got away from our plan, got too happy, but we got the win, and it gets us into next week. This is the first time we’ve been in this situation where you have to win a conference tournament game to get to state. Parkview can put the ball in play. They can field it, throw it. They didn’t tonight, and we took advantage of it.”

Blaine Burge got the first-inning rally started with a leadoff single, and Randy Smith reached on an error. Carson McNeil then singled to score Burge.

Logan Sharp singled to left field, but Smith was thrown out 8-6-2 trying to score from second base.

Noah Jolly then flew out to center field for the second out leading just 1-0, but the Badgers started a two-out rally that didn’t stop for another seven runs.

Alex Matlock singled to drive in two runs and stole second base. He then scored on a base hit by Crafton. Bryson Halford and J.T. Nicholson made it three consecutive singles and a 5-0 Badger lead.

Two more runs scored when Burge’s grounder to third base resulted in Parkview’s second error of the inning. Smith walked and McNeil got his second hit and second RBI of the inning to make it 8-0.

Parkview’s Josh Evans got a two-out base hit in the top of the second inning but didn’t advance beyond first base.

In the bottom of the second, Matlock singled to center field with one out. After back-to-back walks, Parkview (10-16) brought Gary Allman to the mound with the bases loaded. He struck out Nicholson, but Matlock scored on a passed ball before Burge flew out to left to end the inning with Beebe leading 9-0.

Parkview’s best chance to score came in the top of the third. Zach Smith reached on an E6 and Tyler De Vries singled with out. Allman then hit a comebacker back to the mound, where Crafton went to third to get the lead runner for the second out. Allman then hit a hard line drive to deep left field, but Harford was there for the final out of the inning.

Smith hit a leadoff single to start the bottom of the third, and scored three batters later on a two-out double by Noah Jolly that put the Badgers up 10-0.

Ed Johnson got a leadoff base hit in the top of the fourth, but Crafton struck out the next two batters before getting a 5-3 groundout to end the inning.

Smith reached on a one-out error in the fifth, but De Vries and Allman both popped up behind the plate where Matlock made the catches to end the game.

Beebe (9-20-2) piled up 11 base hits and all nine starters got at least one. McNeil and Matlock led the way, each going 2 for 3.

Crafton gave up four hits and no runs in his five innings of work, striking out five and walked zero.

The Badgers played tournament host and No. 1 seed Sylvan Hills on Tuesday after Leader deadlines. The winner of that game will play in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The loser will play in the third-place game at 5 p.m. Thursday.