LITTLE ROCK - It was a travesty of sorts on Thursday night in west Little Rock.
The Arkadelphia Badgers led 3-1 going in to the bottom of the seventh inning against the Little Rock Christian Warriors with pitcher Carson Smith going the distance.
In the top of the seventh, the strike zone got smaller and four walks were issued to Little Rock Christian batters to score two runs to tie the game and a walk-off base hit gave the Warriors a 4-3 win. After Smith was relieved, the second Arkadelphia pitcher had to come out even though he looked to be throwing strikes, the home plate umpire, for some reason didn’t make a call, walked three straight batters before calling a strike. When the third Arkadelphia pitcher came to save a bases-loaded situation and get a win with two outs, another walk was issued on four straight pitches.
From a coaches stand point, it was a situation that shouldn’t have happened.
“We had the lead going into the bottom seventh and our back end just didn’t finish right there,” Arkadelphia head baseball coach Brant Matros said. “That’s the benefit of being a home team and walks got us there at the end. Carson ran out of steam, but he pitched a great game and gave us a chance to win. It was his best outing and that is a positive for us. We played better defense, but offensively we are still a little lethargic. We scratched a run here and there, but we couldn’t get the big hit.”
The game was scoreless after the first inning with the Badgers going down in order and the Warriors squandered a lead-off double. In the second, Maddox Breashears was hit by a pitch with two outs and was left stranded there. In the bottom of the inning, Little Rock Christian scored a run with two outs on a walk, stolen base and two Arkadelphia errors. Another batter was hit by a pitch, but Smith struck out the last batter to end the inning.
The Badgers went down in order again in the top of the third inning, but the Warriors didn’t add to their lead after having an infield hit and an error put runners on first and third. Eric Groom led off the top of the fourth inning with a bunt-single, but he was out on a fielder’s choice when Josh Wallace batted. A balk moved Wallace to second and with two outs, Braydon Todd walked after a second balk by the Warriors pitcher moved Wallace to third.
A lead-off error in the bottom of the fourth inning didn’t come back on the Badgers with three straight outs on a grounder and two fly outs. Arkadelphia tied the game in the top of the fifth inning when Turner Pentecost singled to left field and went to third on a double to right field from Tanner Smith with one out. Alec Ruble walked and Groom walked to load the bases and brought in Pentecost. A strike out and a grounder to second ended the Badgers threat with only one run scored.
After Little Rock Christian went down in order in the bottom of the fifth, the Badgers got a one-out walk issued to Breashears. Pentecost walked after Breashears moved to second on a wild pitch. Following a strike out, River Melugin singled to left field to bring in Breashears to make it 2-1 before another strike out ended the top half of the sixth.
The Warriors only got one runner on base in the bottom of the sixth inning on a 2-out walk and Arkadelphia came back in the top of the seventh to tack on another run.
Groom led off with a single to center field. He moved to second on Cole Kirksey’s sacrifice bunt. A ground out to third base moved 90-feet away from scoring. Matthew Farnham got a base hit to right-center to score Groom for a 3-1 lead, but a batters-interference call ended the Arkadelphia threat.
That set up a strange bottom of the seventh that all of the sudden saw five walks issued.
“We had bases loaded and one out and we only got one run in, so you leave those kind of guys out there it is going to come back and bite you,” Matros said. “Like I said we had good pitching for sixth and one-thirds of an inning, but just couldn’t get those last two when we needed them.”