NORTH LITTLE ROCK -- Springdale Har-Ber baseball coach Ron Bradley acknowledged Van Buren outplayed his team in Saturday's Class 7A state semifinal game, but the Wildcats found a way to earn another earn a spot in next week's Class 7A state finals.
Senior second baseman Blaze Brothers lined a two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the seventh inning to close a four-run rally and give Har-Ber a 6-5 win at Vince DeSalvo Stadium at Burns Park.
State Baseball Tournaments
At North Little Rock
Game 2 4C Bryant 3, 5W Fayetteville 2
Game 4 3W Van Buren 12, 5C Fort Smith Northside 1
Game 6 4W Bentonville High 4, 5C North Little Rock 1
Game 8 3C LR Catholic 14, 6A Bentonville West 6
Game 9 1W Springdale Har-Ber 4, Bryant 1
Game 10 Van Buren 5, 2C Cabot 3 (9 innings)
Game 11 1C Conway 9, Bentonville 6
Game 12 2W Rogers High 10, Little Rock Catholic 0 (6 innings)
Game 13 Springdale Har-Ber 6, Van Buren 5
Game 14 Conway 4, Rogers 3
"We've played them three times and they've outplayed us all three games," said Bradley, whose team won two of the three contests. "They've played us tough all year. They took advantage of a situation we didn't take advantage of early in the game.
"But our kids battled back. They never said die and we found a way to win. Hats off to (Treshon) Paschal coming in there putting up a zero. It was good to see Blaze finally get a hit. He was oh-for-three or oh-for-four. Big AB from our nine-hole to get the walk to tie it."
Har-Ber will take on Conway in a battle of conference champions in the state finals either Friday or Saturday in Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. The time and date of the game will be determined Monday.
Har-Ber (30-4) trailed 5-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, just as it did when the teams met a couple of weeks ago. Mac McCroskey singled and junior Blake Adams hammered his eighth home run of the season to pull the Wildcats within 5-4 with nobody out. J.D. Scott drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning to force in the tying run.
Brothers, who was hit by a pitch to drive in a run in the second inning, said he and his teammates did not panic after having been in almost the same exact position against the Pointers three weeks ago.
Adams put momentum in the Wildcats' corner again on Saturday, Brothers said.
"It's crazy, one hit can do all that," Brothers said.
The Cowley Community College signee popped up with two on and two out earlier in the game, but took advantage of a second chance to help his team reach the finals for the second straight year.
"I kept pulling off and dropping my back shoulder and that one I just stayed through the ball more and I stayed through the zone as long as I could," Brothers said. "It ended as a base hit."
Paschal (7-1) picked up the win with two scoreless innings in relief of starter Blake Benson. Van Buren freshman Connor Johnson took the loss, allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning on two hits and two walks. He also hit a batter.
Van Buren (22-7) scored three runs in the third, taking advantage of a Har-Ber error. McCroskey couldn't field Chase Moore's potential inning-ending double play ball. Instead, two runs scored and Ethan Jones followed with an RBI-single to give the Pointers a 3-2 lead.
The Pointers added two runs in the fourth on two-out singles by Moore and Seth Humphrey for a 5-2 advantage.
Jones, C. Johnson (7) and Rauser; Benson, Paschal (6) and Brown. W-Paschal, 7-1. L-Jones, 5-2. HRs-Har-Ber, Adams (8).
Conway 4, Rogers High 3
Jack Stroth figured he would be asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt when he came to the plate in the seventh inning. Instead, Conway's senior catcher wound up driving in the game winner.
Conway (21-4) rallied twice in the final two innings to earn a spot in the finals.
The two teams were never more than one run apart.
"Great game. Two great teams," Conway coach Noel Boucher said.
And two solid pitching efforts from Wampus Cats senior lefty Jordan Wicks and Mounties' right-hander Mason Griffin.
Wicks was sailing along with a no-hitter through five innings. He finished with a six-hitter and seven strikeouts. Griffin went 5.2 innings, allowing six hits while fanning four.
"Jordan never loses focus. He never gets worried," Stroth said of Wicks. "He's always calm the whole game. That's why I love catching him. He's just awesome."
Griffin gave up four hits in the first two innings, but set down eight consecutive batters during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before a walk and consecutive singles forced Rogers coach Matt Melson to bring in sophomore reliever Matthew Watson.
"(Griffin) had some really tough luck," Melson said. "The first run he gave up was unearned and he ran out of gas there at the end, but he really kept us in it."
Rogers (22-8) trailed 1-0 and had managed only two base runners through the first five innings but sophomore Sal Jacobo -- the Mounties' No. 9 hitter -- ended Wicks' no-hit bid with a double to right field to lead off the sixth.
Senior Jeb Sample followed with a bunt single and junior Brandon Husted tied the game with a single to left. Two batters later, Watson gave Rogers a 2-1 lead with the fourth hit of the inning.
Conway responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Senior James Martindale lined a two-run single to right field to give Conway a 3-2 lead.
"To their credit, once the momentum swung in our favor they got it right back," Melson said. "That was just a really good baseball game between two really good teams."
In the seventh, senior Colin McWhorter lined a lead-off single to left, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a ground ball hit by Jacobo.
Rogers tied the game when Sample's chopper down the first-base line took an unusual hop off first baseman Cade White's right shoulder for a run-scoring single.
Conway needed only five pitches in the bottom of the seventh to pick up the game winner. James Hicks and Parker Gavazzi both reached on first-pitch singles. A wild pitch sent the base runners to third and second and Stroth reached out to send a wide fastball into right field for the final run.
Tim Cooper of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette contributed to this report.
Sports on 05/13/2018
Print Headline: Deja vous all over again Har-Ber rallies past Van Buren again to earn state finals berth