Friday, May 08, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits win opener at regionals

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits punched their ticket to the state tournament Friday morning with a 10-0 victory over Trumann in the first round of the Class 4A East Regional baseball tournament in Pocahontas. The win provides some solace for two years of disappointing first-round exits in regionals despite entering as a top seed.

It took the Jackrabbits a while to find their comfort zone at the plate, but pitcher Cody Martin shut down the Wildcats and kept his team in the lead after it plated a single run in the first inning.

The Jackrabbits began to pull away with four runs in the third, and then blew the game open with a grand slam by Christian James in the fourth inning. They set the final margin and ended the game in five innings with another run in the bottom of the fifth.

Casey Martin scored Lonoke’s first run after singling to center field to start the inning. He stole second base, and then scored when an errant pick-off throw by the pitcher sailed into the outfield.

After a fruitless second inning, Martin again got things rolling in the third with a leadoff triple down the left-field line. Haven Hunter singled to center field for the RBI. Cody Martin and Nick Graves drew consecutive walks to load the bases.

Christian James hit a sacrifice fly that scored Hunter and advanced the other two runners into scoring position. Todd Pool then reached on a fielder’s choice back to the pitcher, but Cody Martin still scored on the play while Graves advanced to third base, giving Lonoke a 4-0 lead and leaving runners on the corners.

Conner Linton singled to left to score Graves. Savonte Rountree flew out to shallow right field, and Pool was thrown out at home to end the inning on a 4-2 double play.

Trumann pitcher Garrett Woods walked the bases loaded amidst getting Casey Martin and Hunter to line out to set up James’ big swing.

He put James in a 0-2 hole after he fouled off the first three pitches. A fourth pitch missed the mark before James sent the 1-2 pitch over the wall in left field.

Linton grounded out to third base to start the fifth inning, but it was the only out recorded by the Wildcats the rest of the game. Rountree singled to center field with one out. Elijah Seigrist and Casey Martin walked to load the bases, and Trumann relief pitcher Taylor Wilson balked to score Rountree and invoke the 10-runs after five innings mercy rule.

Cody Martin threw all five innings for Lonoke, giving up just one hit while striking out four and walking one. Casey Martin and Linton went 2 for 3 for half of Lonoke’s eight base hits, while James went 1 for 3 with five RBIs.

Lonoke will face Gosnell at noon today in the semifinal round of the regional tournament. A win in that game means a regional championship game at 2:30 p.m. Monday. A loss against Gosnell today means a 12 p.m. game on Monday to determine the three and four seeds in the state tournament that will begin Thursday in Blytheville.