Jay Watson wasn't about to go down without a fight leading off the bottom of the eighth inning Monday.
The Rogers High junior took a called strike, then fouled off five straight pitches before lining a single into left field. That proved to be the difference when Watson stepped on home plate on a Van Buren error in a 4-3 win to open 6A-West Conference play at Veterans Park.
"Jay just found a way to win that battle," Rogers coach Matt Melson said. "I think that at-bat was kind of indicative of how our whole team battled back tonight."
After Watson got on, the Mounties (3-1, 1-0 6A-West) found a way to move him around the diamond and into scoring position.
Marc Sussman singled with one out to move Watson into scoring position, and Salvador Jacobo put a hard grounder in play that the Pointers could not handle as Watson raced home.
Van Buren (5-2, 0-1) scored three runs in the top of the second inning off Rogers ace McKaden Templeton. A walk and hit batter put two aboard and Seth Humphrey laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Another walk loaded the bases for Mason Patrick, who singled to drive home Hayden Roark. Landry Wilkerson followed with a two-out, two-run single, scoring Simon Wheeler and Bryce Waters.
"That inning was uncharacteristic for McKaden," Melson said. "You don't see him walk two batters in an inning, and then he hit one. But we talk about giving up minimal damage and he only gave up three runs when a lot of pitchers might give up six or seven runs in that spot."
The Mounties got two runs back in the bottom of the third. Tanner Strickland singled with one out and Templeton reached on an error. Both scored on Brandon Husted's two-run single to pull the Mounties within 3-2.
Then in the eighth, Hayden Seldomridge singled with one out and scored on Templeton's clutch two-out double to tie the game at 3-3.
Templeton went 5 innings and struck out 5 before giving way to Jay Watson, who pitched 3 scoreless innings with 6 strikeouts to earn the win.
Trevor Johnson threw 111 pitches and allowed 6 hits with 4 strikeouts over 6.2 innings for Van Buren. Connor Johnson took the loss for the Pointers.
Husted was 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs, and Watson was 2-for-3.
Wilkerson was 1-for-4 with a double and 2 RBIs for Van Buren.
"I hate it that we have to play big games like this early in the season," Melson said of starting conference play less than two weeks into the regular season. "We don't feel like we've started to click yet, but this was a big win so hopefully this will pay off down the road."
The two teams will meet again at 5 p.m. today in Van Buren.
Bentonville High 6, Springdale Har-Ber 3 (8)
Brooks McDowell's infield single scored Karson Coffee and snapped a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning as Bentonville defeated Har-Ber in the 6A-West Conference opener for both teams at Arvest Ballpark.
Coffee led off the eighth with a single, stole second and took third on an error before McDowell's single broke the tie. Keegan Allen followed with a triple and drove in McDowell, then he scored on Parker Charlton's single.
Bentonville (3-0, 1-0) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, only to have Har-Ber (6-2, 0-1) respond with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. The Wildcats had the winning run at second with one out in the seventh before a line-drive double play ended that threat.
Payton Allen pitched four scoreless innings and picked up the win in relief of Devan Hearn, who pitched four innings. Allen allowed two hits but did allow the bases loaded in the eighth before an infield fly and a strikeout ended Har-Ber's threat.
Charlie Acuff suffered the loss for Har-Ber as he pitched 2.2 innings in relief of Blake Adams, who threw 101 pitches in a no-decision and struck out eight but walked five.
The two teams will close out their two-game series today at the Tiger Athletic Complex.
Bentonville West 4, Fayetteville 2
West did all its scoring in the second inning, then held off Fayetteville's comeback attempt in the sixth as the Wolverines claim the 6A-West opener for both teams.
West (5-1, 1-0) loaded the bases with three straight singles to start the second, then Luke Schonauer's single drove in two runs. Joey Aden followed with another two-run single to complete the scoring.
Maddox Thorton pitched 5.2 innings and picked up the win as he allowed two hits and four walks while striking out 10 Bulldog batters in a 102-pitch outing. Carter Bourg pitched the final 1.1 innings for the save and allowed just one hit.
The two teams conclude their two-game series today with a 5 p.m. game at Wolverine Athletic Complex.
Rogers Heritage 8, Springdale High 7
Josh Llewellyn laced a two-out single to drive in Alex Nowak with the winning run as Heritage walked-off Springdale to open league play.
Springdale saw a 7-1 lead after three innings evaporate as the War Eagles scored 5 runs in the fifth and another in the sixth to tie the game at 7-7 before winning the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Ben Pollock pitched 6.1 innings in relief of starter Jeb Brown, who did not get out of the first inning after allowing 3 hits and 4 earned runs. Pollock allowed just 2 hits and struck out 5 to earn the win.
Sargent started for Springdale and went 4.2 innings, allowing 8 hits and 6 runs with just one strikeout. The Bulldogs used 4 additional pitchers in the game.
Springdale (5-3, 0-1) had 5 hits in the game with Will Mueller driving in a pair of runs.
Asher Cameron was 3-for-4 with a double for Heritage (3-2, 1-0), and Reid Renfrow was 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs.
The two teams are scheduled to play again today at 5 p.m. at Tyson Park in Springdale.
Sports on 03/12/2019
Print Headline: PREP BASEBALL Mounties rally in 6A-West opener