Arkadelphia scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game 4-4, but the Nashville Scrappers scored seven runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat the Badgers 11-5 on Wednesday night at Henderson State’s Clyde Berry Field.
“I thought we came out and played really well,” Arkadelphia head baseball coach Brant Matros said.
Although the game did not count as a 7-4A conference game, it could be a preview to what could be seen at the 7-4A district tournament next week in Ashdown. The Badgers will play next Wednesday, April 26 in the first round of the tournament against an opponent yet to be determined.
Drew Saunders was the starting pitcher for the Badgers and Nashville scored two runs in the top of the first inning on a lead-off walk and a one-out triple. Saunders got out of the inning with a strikeout, but Arkadelpia trailed 2-0.
Alec Ruble walked for the Badgers in the bottom of the first, but was caught stealing for the third out of the inning. After Nashville did not score in the second, Turner Pentecost was hit by a pitch with one out, but a fielder’s choice and a strike out ended the second for Arkadelphia.
River Melugin threw out a Nashville runner trying to steal second in the top of the third inning and two fly ball outs to Ruble and Groom ended it for the Scrappers. In the bottom of the third, Maddox Breashears reached on an overthrow by the Nashville third baseman. Melugin chopped a single over third base and Ruble reached on an overthrow by the Nashville pitcher that scored Breashears. Groom walked to load the bases, but the Scrappers struck out the next three Badgers to keep a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Nashville scored a run on three singles to lead 3-1. Matt Green led off the bottom of the fourth for Arkadelphia with single to left field. He moved to second on an botched pick off attempt, but was left stranded at second base.
The Scrappers scored another run in the top of the fifth inning on two walks and a sacrifice fly to right field. Nashville led 4-1.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Groom walked. Tanner Smith drove a single to the gap in right field and on the hit, the Nashville pitcher was trying to cover first base and fell over the bag. Smith, running at full speed, fell on top of him, but was safe at first and Groom waltzed around the bases to home plate before the Scrappers could recover. Alec Lewis was hit by a pitch and Cole Kirksey came in to run for him. With the bases loaded, Pentecost tripled to the gap in left-center field to score two more runs and tie the game 4-4.
In the top of the sixth inning, Nashville threatened to score when a lead-off walker tried do score at the plate, but was thrown out by Pentecost. However, the Badgers went down in order in the bottom of the sixth and the game was still tied.
Nashville opened the seventh inning with a single. A balk sent the runner to second and a wild pitch moved him to third. The second batter was hit by a pitch and stole second then the third Nashville batter was walked intentionally. That was followed by a base-clearing triple. A walk and an infield fielder’s choice hit scored another run. A single to left field scored another run for the Scrappers and a base loaded walk brought in Nashville’s seventh run of the inning. The Scrappers led 11-4.
Groom led off the Badgers bottom of the seventh with a walk. He scored when Smith doubled to left field and Green reached on an error with two outs, but a pop fly to third base ended the game.
“Drew really struggled some in the first inning, but he settled in,” Matros said. “He got his pitch count up because of that first inning and we gave up really two hard hit balls, but we made some mistakes pitching by giving them some walks. We were using a lot of pitchers tonight to get them ready for the rest of the week. Our defense played well and did not have any errors against a team that does a lot of things. We scratched runs like we know we can, but we didn’t have the big inning. We tied it and there at the end we gave up a few free bases and a big hit and that kind of gets to it. We get a big inning and take that one away, it is a different story. I liked the way we played with more grit.”