Eight-Run Inning Powers Tigers
PRAIRIE GROVE ADVANCES TO DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP
LINCOLN — An 8-run sixth inning powered Prairie Grove to an 11-6 win over Pea Ridge in the District 4A-1 baseball semifinals at Lincoln Saturday.
Prairie Grove roared back from a 5-3 deficit entering the sixth inning to advance into the district championship. The Blackhawks played their last two at-bats without third baseman Jakota Sainsbury, who was ejected for arguing.
“That’s a Triple A rule,” said Blackhawk coach John King. “If the umpire deems it bad enough to kick you, then you’ve got to go ahead and sit out a game. It definitely puts a kink in things. There’s somebody you’ve got to add to the middle of your lineup.”
Prairie Grove scored two runs in the top of the third and Pea Ridge answered with three in the bottom half of the inning to take a one-run lead. Silas Myane began the fourth with a leadoff walk for the Tigers. The next batter grounded out, but with Drew Cates (2-for-3, 2 RBIs, 1 run scored) batting, the plate umpire sustained an injury causing a 10 minute delay before he gamely returned to his post. Cates drilled a single RBI to tie the game at 3-3.
The Blackhawks again responded by pushing a pair of runs across in their half of the inning. Will Feemster started the rally with a leadoff double. Prairie Grove intentionally walked Sainsbury, then got Brayden Ralph to fly out. With runners at the corners, Tyler Odell doubled into left field to bring home the go-ahead run. Hayden Holtgrewe’s sacrifice fly brought home another run and the Blackhawks led 5-3.
Pea Ridge starter Tate Busey got into trouble in the top of the sixth. After recording a strike out, he issued a walk, then induced a ground-out, but the Blackhawks could not seem to get the third out. Jackson Sorters was hit by a pitch. Jadin Higgins bunted his way on to load the bases. Myane was hit by a pitch and a run scored. D.J. Pearson (3-for-5, 1 RBI, 2 runs scored) singled to drive in another run and Cates did likewise putting Prairie Grove ahead, 6-5.
The Tigers weren’t done yet. Couper Allen (1-for-3, 3 RBIs, 1 run scored) drew a walk which scored another run. At that juncture, King pulled Busey and inserted Landon Allison, but he didn’t last long. Kyle Fidler singled and Chase Wade walked, increasing the Tiger advantage to 9-5.
Ralph then came on in relief surrendering a two-run single to Cole Vertz, which a second run awarded when Sainsbury was penalized for blocking a runner turning the corner at third. Sainsbury argued and was ejected.
Prairie Grove coach Chris Mileham celebrated a number of quality at-bats during the 8-run inning.
“We didn’t help them, we didn’t chase pitches out of the zone,” Mileham said. “In that stretch we strung together eight or nine really good at-bats. That’s fun to watch.”
Allison tripled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. He was replaced by courtesy runner Hunter Anderson, who scored on Feemster’s single, but the Blackhawks could produce no more runs and lost 11-6.
Mileham said a loss to Pea Ridge during conference play when the Tigers walked 13 batters left a sour taste in their mouth and they were eager to make up for it.
“I think we’ve just got a chip on our shoulder,” Mileham said. “Hey, we’re somebody to talk about, too.”
Both teams return to Lincoln for regional play Thursday. Pea Ridge will play the No. 1 seed from the 4A-4 at 10 a.m. while Prairie Grove takes on the No. 3 seed at 12:30 p.m.
Prairie Grove sophomore Kyle Fidler draws a ball on a check-swing. Fidler drew a walk to score a run in a dramatic 8-run sixth inning during the Tigers 11-6 defeat of Pea Ridge in the District 4A-1 baseball tournament semifinals Saturday.