Three days, three run-rule victories, one trip to Baum Stadium.
Greenwood rolled past Texarkana, 13-1, in the semifinals of the 6A State Tournament last Saturday afternoon at Benton to reach the state championship game. Greenwood (21-8) will play Jonesboro, a 6-5 winner against Benton in Saturday’s other semifinal, in Baum Stadium at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
“That’s always the goal to get there and win it,” Greenwood head coach Randy Gardner said. “You can’t win it unless you get there. That’s really good for these seniors, who have done so much for us the last three years. Hopefully, we can keep this going one more time.”
Saturday, the Bulldogs followed the same script from mercy-rule wins against Little Rock Fair and Little Rock Parkview with a first-inning lead.
“We were very focused and relaxed at the plate,” Gardner said. “That’s a good combination and usually leads to a good performance. That’s what we got. The seniors played real well and led by example. We had a good start to every game and that’s important.”
Michael Rhea singled with one out and went to second on Ethan Clark’s single before Houston Kennedy loaded the sacks with a walk. Rhea scored on a passed ball and Austin Pittman put the Bulldogs up 2-0 with a sacrifice fly that scored Clark.
“It changes the perspective for both teams when you get out in front,” Gardner said. “They have to play like they’re behind and we play like we have the lead. There’s not a tense situation every pitch. It makes a big difference.”
The Bulldogs sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning and blew the game open.
Catcher Michael Nelson started the inning with a double, and courtesy runner Jonathan Clemons scored on Mason Copeland’s single following Austin Warren’s single. Hayden Harvey added a walk to the load the bases and Rhea followed with another walk for an RBI.
Clark’s sacrifice fly scored Copeland for a 6-0 lead before Houston Kennedy drove in a pair of runs. Pittman reached on an error. Chris Davis and Nelson followed with RBI singles and a 9-0 lead.
Greenwood added four more runs in the third inning, which the Bulldogs enough for the run-rule for the third day in a row. Harvey, Rhea, Clark and Kennedy all reached to start off the third, including Clark’s RBI single, before Pittman’s sacrifice fly and Davis’ run-scoring single.
Texarkana (5-18) broke through for an unearned run against Chris Hunt in the fourth inning, but that was it for the senior pitcher. Hunt yielded just two hits and struck out four while walking three.
Greenwood rapped out 10 hits in the game with seven different Bulldogs getting hits.
“The back end got on for us and drove some runs in, too,” Gardner said.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
6A STATE TOURNAMENT
GREENWOOD 13, TEXARKANA 1 (5)
Texarkana 000 10 — 1 2 2
Greenwood 274 0x — 13 10 2
Boyce, Chattaway, Murphy and Phillips; Hunt and Nelson. W — Hunt, 8-2. L — Boyce. HRs — None.