Farmington Baseball Suffers Setback In 5A-West Opener
Riding high after defeating rival Prairie Grove in dramatic fashion a day earlier, Farmington’s baseball team was brought back down by getting swept by Little Rock Christian in its 5A-West opener on March 15.
The reality check resulted in the first losses this season for the Cardinals, who fell to 4-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
“I think we’re a better ball team than we were a year ago, but we’re still working on things,” said Farmington coach Jay Harper.
Limiting defensive mistakes was at the top of Harper’s list of things to work on after the Cards coughed up six errors in a 13-2 loss against the Warriors (3-1, 2-0) in the first game of the doubleheader.
The Cardinals also need to improve offensively, especially with runners on base. Despite pounding out 20 hits total on the day, they left the bases loaded a combined three times during the doubleheader.
“You can’t do that and win in the 5A-West,” Harper said.
Moreover, Harper is searching for pitchers behind ace Tyler Gregg, a junior right-hander. Gregg “made only one mistake late” in a 3-2 loss in the second game against Little Rock Christian. He struck out 12 batters and helped his own cause by driving in Blake Madewell on RBI singles in the third and fifth innings.
“I think Ben Silvis will be our No. 2 and I think Drake Vinyard can be our No. 2, too,” Harper said. “But Cade Fenton, Tripp Chaney and a few other guys will need to pitch and do well for us, and they’re all capable of doing that.
“So, we’ve got some possibilities. We’ve just got to keep working.”
Stephen Piha’s two-run single in the seventh inning lifted the Cardinals to a 7-6 nonconference victory against Prairie Grove (3-4).
It was the fourth lead change after the Tigers jumped out to an early advantage on Logan Gragg’s threerun homer in the third inning.
Gragg, a right-hander who has signed with Connors State, started on the mound and struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings before being relieved by Nick Ellis (0-2).
“What I like about our kids is we were down 5-1 against a top quality pitcher and we never quit,” Harper said. “We started to get to [Gragg] late and they took him out. And I thought we did a lot better job of working their bullpen and working [pitch] counts.
“We got down in the Little Rock Christian game and we didn’t quit. It was just that they were a better ball team than we were in that first game, but I thought we played a lot better in that second game.”
Gragg and Clay Fidler combined for five RBIs and four hits for Prai- rie Grove while Blake Madewell was 2 for 4 for Farmington.
Blake Putnam and Gregg each drove in a run and scored a run for the Cardinals.
Silvis (2-0) struck out six and scattered seven hits while picking the complete-game victory.
Farmington’s Tyler Gregg fires a pitch during the Cardinals’ 11-2 victory at Lincoln earlier this season. Gregg struck out 12 during the Cardinals loss against Little Rock Christian on March 15.