Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Harding Academy wins 3A title

Leader sports editor

FAYETTEVILLE – The Harding Academy Wildcats became the Class 3A state champions Friday with a 4-0 victory over Greenland at Baum Stadium on the campus of the University of Arkansas.

The Wildcats only managed four total base hits, but Greenland committed six errors while HA pitcher Peydon Harlow turned in a great performance to earn the state championship game Most Valuable Player Award.

Harlow went the distance, giving up just five hits while striking out four and walking no one.

Greenland starting pitcher Austin Anderson was also outstanding, but the Pirate defense wasn’t.

Anderson threw five innings, giving up just four hits, though he struck out no one and walked two.

Harding Academy (32-5) scored twice in the bottom of the third inning, and everything else became insurance. The inning started with a Caleb Campbell’s leadoff walk.

He moved to second on a missed pick-off throw, but was then picked off at second base. T.J. Hester then lined out to shortstop for two outs with nobody on, but as can often be the case, a two-out error led to a rally.

Pate Fullerton’ fly ball was dropped. Dalton Koch then hit a grounder that also should’ve been the third out, but the throw to first was wild, leaving everyone safe. Harlow then singled to drive in Fullerton for a 1-0 Wildcat lead. Seth Morgan followed suit with his own RBI single that scored Koch to make it 2-0.

Greenland (27-9) had a chance in the top of the fifth when it got two hits to go with a Wildcat error, but with two outs, Antonio Alvarez grounded to second base to end the threat.

Harding Academy scored without a hit in the bottom of the fifth. Koch walked with one out. He stole second base and moved to third when the throw sailed into center field. Harlow then flew out to center field, but plenty deep enough to score Koch for the 3-0 Wildcat lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Harding Academy’s Timmy Stewart hit a leadoff double to the power alley in left-center field. Greenland coach Will McGinnis pulled Anderson, and it was the Wildcats’ last hit of the game.

Blake Hatch took the mound, and immediately threw a wild pitch that advanced Stewart to third base with no outs. Catcher Griffin Metheny then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Stewart and set the final margin.

Greenland’s Will Overton singled to start the Pirates’ last stand in the top of the seventh, but Harlow seemed to get stronger at the end. In rapid succession, Harlow got Hunter Cartwright looking, Metheny gunned down Overton trying to steal second and Dusty Reynolds went down looking to end the game.

HA’s two through five hitters got all the hits. Koch, Harlow, Morgan and Stewart got one base hit apiece – only Stewart’s going for extra bases. Greenland third baseman Luke Osborn went 2 for 2 to lead all players.