Farm­ing­ton Base­ball Suf­fers Set­back In 5A-West Opener

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS WEEK -

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.

MIKE CAP­SHAW EN­TER­PRISE LEADER

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.

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