Tuesday, May 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke wins it in eighth

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits advanced to the championship game of the Class 4A-East Region baseball tournament with a 3-2 victory over Gosnell on Saturday in Pocahontas. The regional final against Brookland was originally scheduled for Monday afternoon, but was moved to Tuesday evening because of heavy rain. Look for details of that game and early action in the Class 4A state tournament in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

Saturday’s game was an exciting one. The Jackrabbits led most of the way, but the Pirates tied it in the top of the seventh inning then held Lonoke scoreless in the bottom half to force extra innings.

Gosnell got two runners on base in the top of the eighth thanks to an error and a base hit, but a little good fortune came through for the Jackrabbits. After the error, Gosnell’s Tino Collins hit a hard line drive right to Lonoke third-baseman Nick Graves. The hit-and-run was on, and Graves threw to first to double up the base runner.

It proved very fortunate because the next batter, Tabari Herron, singled to right field before relief pitcher Christian James struck out Michael Miller to get out of the inning.

Lonoke’s Cody Martin lined out to left to start the bottom of the eighth. Graves was then hit by a pitch and James singled to put runners at first and second.

Lonoke put on the hit-and-run with Todd Pool at the plate. Pool hit a grounder to second base and Gosnell went for the double play. The throw to second got James, but the throw to first wasn’t in time. Graves never slowed down, rounding third and scoring the game-winning run during the double-play attempt.

Lonoke took the game’s first lead with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Casey Martin hit a leadoff single to left field. Two batters later with two outs, Graves hit a line-drive double to the wall in left field to drive in the run.

Gosnell tied it in the top of the fifth without a base hit. A hit batter, a walk and an error led the Pirates’ first run. Lonoke didn’t take long to regain the lead. Casey Martin sent the first pitch of the bottom half of the fifth over the fence in left field to put the Jackrabbits up 2-1.

Gosnell threatened in the sixth, putting runners at second and third with no outs on a single and another Lonoke error. But pitcher Savonte Rountree got a pop-up to first base, a groundout back to the mound and a strikeout to get out of the jam.

Two singles and another Lonoke error led to the game-tying run in the seventh by Gosnell.

The Jackrabbits committed six errors in the game while the Pirates committed none.

Casey Martin went 2 for 4 with a home run and an RBI. Graves went 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and an RBI.

Rountree pitched six innings for the Jackrabbits, giving up four hits and zero earned runs while striking out three and walking one. James threw the last two innings, giving up three hits and one unearned run while fanning two and walking one.