Baseball: Lee's two-out hit helps Mounties slip past Tigers

Posted: April 18, 2017 at 1 a.m.

Grayson Lee, Rogers center fielder, hits a foul ball Monday during the third inning against Bentonville at the Tiger Athletic Complex in Bentonville. Lee followed up with a single in the at-bat to drive in Tim Howard to score the only run of the game.

BENTONVILLE -- Grayson Lee managed to stay alive as he fouled off a trio of pitches, then he finally received the pitch he wanted to see.

Rogers High's senior drilled a 1-2 pitch into left field for a two-out single and drove in Timmy Howard for the game's only run as the Mounties edged Bentonville High, 1-0, to start a 7A-West Conference series Monday at the Tiger Athletic Complex.

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Howard led off the third inning with a walk off Tigers starter Jacob Williams and stole second before Salvador Jacobo's single put runners on the corners with one out. Williams managed a pop fly for the second out and was within a strike of avoiding the jam, but Lee outlasted him and pulled off the clutch hit.

"We're always thinking to look fastball," Lee said. "We're trying to hit the fastball early. I saw some pitches that I took and got down to two strikes, then I fouled off and fouled off.

"I finally got a fastball up a little bit that I liked and was able to get the bat on the ball. He's a fastball pitcher, and he threw me a couple of curveballs. I knew eventually he was coming with a fastball. When he threw it, I took advantage of it."

It was all the run support McKaden Templeton needed. The sophomore right-hander, who pitched brilliantly in Rogers' extra-inning losses to Fayetteville and Van Buren in his last two starts, finished with a three-hitter and struck out seven in a 99-pitch outing.

Bentonville (11-9, 6-3), which had its seven-game win streak snapped, had its chances to score on a couple of occasions with runners in scoring position with less than two out. Templeton, however, buckled down and picked up key strikeouts to thwart the Tigers' scoring chances.

"A lot of people say offenses are down in the league, and that may be true to an extent," said Rogers coach Matt Melson, whose team improved to 9-10 overall and 3-6 in league play. "Man, everybody has an established number one (pitcher), and you're not going to score a lot off of them.

"Both kids competed hard. I was glad to see McKaden get the win after a tough-luck no-decision against Fayetteville. I was proud of how he competed on the mound. He bared down in the stretch and threw a lot of high-stress pitches."

Bentonville's biggest threat came in the fourth when Justin Hines drew a leadoff walk and Nathan Lyons blooped a single to shallow center that fell between three Rogers defenders. Templeton, however, struck out the next two batters before Hines stole third, then ended the inning with another strikeout.

"That kid did a great job for them on the mound," Bentonville coach Todd Abbott said. "We were just unable to capitalize on them. We had too many strike threes, including three straight in the fourth.

"It's tough to win games when you leave guys out there. If we learn from that and we're able to adjust and capitalize on it next time, it will all be good."

Sports on 04/18/2017