Southerners top Panthers in extra innings

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Good pitching kept the Heber Springs Panthers close, but missed opportunities led to a 5-4 non-conference baseball loss in eight innings to Southside Batesville (4-11) at the Heber Springs Sports Complex Thursday.

Heber Springs (3-5 in 4-4A Conference, 4-10 overall) will try and bounce back against conference foe Clarksville (4-4 in conference, 7-7 overall) at 4:30 p.m. Friday at home. The Panthers trail third place Clarksville and fourth place Pottsville (3-4 in conference, 5-7 overall) by one game in the loss column.

Starter Corbin Jones allowed five hits, four runs (two runs earned), struck out four and walked two in seven inning. Cole Payton, the losing pitcher in relief, pitched the eighth inning. Payton limited the Southerners to one hit, yielded one earned run and struck out one batter.

“Corbin pitched a great game, and Cole pitched well,” Heber Springs coach Monterio May said. “Corbin mixed his pitches well and stayed ahead of the batters. We didn’t finish the game as a team. We wanted to win and keep the momentum from Tuesday’s game at Pottsville going into Friday’s game with Clarksville.”

May said one of the game’s determining factors was the Panthers not capitalizing on Southside’s mistakes.

“It’s the little plays over the course of a game that make the difference,” he said. “I remember about three or four times it happened. We are not capitalizing on little mistakes that teams make. We played a good game and swung the bats decent.”

Heber Springs took the lead during the bottom of the second inning. Gage Buford hit a single and later scored from third base on John McBroom’s RBI base hit.

Southside scored three runs on three hits and a Heber Springs fielding error in the top of the third inning for a 3-1 lead. The Southerners held the lead until the sixth inning.

J. T Spears singled and was replaced by courtesy runner Conner Riddle. McBroom followed with a base hit and Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Riddle scored on Zachary Parker’s single and reduced Southside’s lead to 3-2.

Easton Cusick, who was a courtesy runner for McBroom, was tagged out on the same sequence at the plate.

The Panthers tied the game when Xander Lindley, a courtesy runner for Jones, scored from third base on a passed ball.  Heber Springs took the 4-3 lead when Parker scored on Kenan Sneed’s sacrifice fly to the outfield.

Southside tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the seventh. The Southerners scored the winning run on a Heber Springs fielding error in the eighth.

May said Garrett Hudspeth and Spears have their rest and will be available to pitch against Clarksville on Friday.

“Our pitching is set and both are ready to go,” May said. “We want to go as high in the conference standings as we can and get a good seed for the playoffs. We are starting to play our best baseball and want to be in the top four for the conference tournament.”

Southside 003 000 11–5 3 3
Heber Springs 010 003 00–4 8 4
Southside Batesville hitters — Bo Trucks 2 singles, 1 RBI; Tyson Trucks single, 1 RBI; Blayne Bufford single, 2 stolen bases; Kaelan Duncan single, 1 stolen base; Carson McGhee single, 1 stolen base; Landen Haas 1 stolen base; Kyle Long 1 stolen base.
Southside  pitchers — Kaelan Duncan 5 hits 1 run, 1 strikeout in 5 innings; Bryson Duncan 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk in .1 inning; Blayne Bufford (W) 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk in 2.2 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Matthew Cook single, double, 1 stolen base; John McBroome 2 singles, 1 RBI; Kenan Sneed single, 1 RBI; Zachary Parker single, 1 RBI; Cole Payton single; Gage Buford single; Garrett Hudspeth 1 stolen base.
Heber Springs pitchers –Corbin Jones 5 hits, 4 runs, 2 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks in 7 innings; Cole Payton (L 0-1) 1 hit, 1 earned run, 1 strikeout in 1 inning.

Panthers fall to Bulldogs in nonconference action

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Monday’s nonconference baseball match with Conway St. Joseph turned into one of those kind of days that the Heber Springs Panthers will try and forget quickly.

Playing for the first time in 10 days, the Panthers resumed the schedule and lost to St. Joseph 15-1 at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

The game ended on the 10-run rule after five innings.

“It turned into one of those days when the wheels completely fell off,” Heber Springs coach Monterio May said. “We practiced for the past four days, but we have a lot of rust to get rid of.”

St. Joseph scored one run during the first inning and two more runs in the second. The Bulldogs broke the game open  by scoring 11 runs during the third and added one run in the fifth.

The Panthers avoided a shutout in the bottom of the fifth.

Cole Payton was hit by a pitch and Conner Riddle walked.  St. Joseph turned a double play as Payton reached third base. Kenan Sneed followed with an RBI single, scoring Payton from third base.

The Panthers (2-3 in 4-4A Conference, 3-5 overall) were scheduled to play at Ozark on Tuesday and at Morrilton on Thursday. Heber Springs will play Woodlawn and Rose Bud at Rose Bud on Saturday.

St. Joseph 13(11) 01–15 9 2
Heber Springs 000 01–1  4 4
St. Joseph hitters — Nicholas French single, double, 2 RBIs; Collin Coney 2 singles; Luke Pope single, 3 RBIs; Max Longing single, 2 RBIs; Caleb Mallett single, 1 RBI; Jared Sanders single, 1 RBI; Gabriel Stobaugh single; Luke Brigger 1 RBI; Cole Garner 1 RBI.
St. Joseph pitchers — Cole Garner (W) 4 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts in 5 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Kenan Sneed 2 singles, 1 RBI; Matthew Cook single; Garrett Hudspeth single.
Heber Springs pitchers — Xander Lindley (L, 0-2) 6 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts in 2 innings; Mathew Cook 1 hit, 3 earned runs, 2 walks in 0 innings; Gage Buford 2 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned runs, 2 walks in .1 inning; Corbin Jones 0 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout in 2.2 innings.

Panthers, May claim first win

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Monteri0 May will never forget his first win as head baseball coach at Heber Springs High School.

Garrett Hudspeth pitched the final two innings and hit a bloop single to drive home the winning run in the bottom of the eighth as the Panthers defeated Pottsville 8-7 in a 4-4A Conference game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

Hudspeth struck out five batters with one walk in relief of starter J.T. Spears.

Heber Springs picked up its first win in three games. The Panthers lost to conference foe Morrilton in the season opener and to Clinton in non-conference play.

Heber Springs loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Kenan Sneed hit a groundball against a drawn-in infield and Matthew Cook, who started the inning with a single, was thrown out at the plate for the second out.

Hudspeth hit a blooper behind second base that Pottsville shortstop Matthew Moore failed to catch as Xander Lindley scored from third base.

“We will take it anyway we can,” May said. “I told the players before the game we were going to fight every pitch, win every inning and let the outcome play out. I’m proud of how these guys completed with dedication every day. It paid off in this game.”

Heber Springs struggled at the plate during Thursday’s game at Clinton, and May challenged his team to reverse that trend.

“We want to swing through every pitch and try and stay away from check swings,” May said. “We wanted to put the ball in play. We struck out too much against Clinton and wanted to reduce that.”

Spears allowed seven hits and seven runs (one earned run) and struck out six batters in six innings.

“J.T. first met me in January and told said he had been working on pitching for the last year,” May said. “He said that he was going to be one of our best pitchers. He showed that in this game. I told him if he could throw strikes, he could become a good pitcher. We didn’t play great defense behind him, but he kept battling.”

May hoped to get five or six innings from Spears and then give the ball to Hudspeth.

“I told Garrett earlier in the day he will close out the game and be the leader that his teammates think he is,” May said.

Pottsville built a 4-1 lead by scoring one run in the top of the first inning and three runs in the second.

Heber Springs responded with three runs in its half of the second inning. The Panthers loaded the bases with one out as Cook scored from third base on an error. Spears then came home on an infield out. Lindley scored on Sneed’s RBI single to left field.

Pottsville increased its lead to 5-3 in the third inning.

Heber Springs led for the first time by scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Conner Riddle scored on a bases-loaded walk to Cole Payton. Cook hit a 2-run single, scoring Sneed and Hudspeth, as the Panthers led, 6-5. Payton later came home on an error.

Pottsville tied the game at 7-7 in the fifth.

“This was a good win,” May said. “The field was wet and more rain was starting to come down. We hope to build on this and keep rolling along.”

Heber Springs (1-1 conference, 1-2 overall) is scheduled to play at Clarksville on Tuesday and return home to host Dardanelle on Friday in conference games.    

Pottsville 131 020 00–7 7 5
Heber Springs 030 400 01–8 9 4
Pottsville hitters — Aiden Owens single, double 1 RBI; Zach Gray single, double; Cade Linker double, 2 RBIs; Easton Stevens single 1 stolen base.
Pottsville pitchers — Matthew Moore 5 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 5 walks in 4.2 innings; Jacob McCurry 2 hits, 0 runs, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk in 1 inning; Caden Caruthers 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk in 1.2 inning.
Heber Springs hitters — Matthew Cook 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Garrett Hudspeth single, 1 RBI; Kenan Sneed single, 1 RBI; Conner Riddle single, 1 RBI; John McBroome single; Gage Buford single; J.T. Spears single; Xander Lindley single; Cole Payton 1 RBI.
Heber Springs pitchers — J.T. Spears 7 hits, 7 runs, 1 earned run, 6 strikeouts in 6 innings; Garrett Hudspeth (W, 1-0) 0 hits, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk in 2 innings.

Panthers top West Side in baseball opener

Heber Springs first baseman Cole Peyton steps off the bag after an out during Monday’s game against West Side. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELLE McCARTY

March 2, 2020

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs withstood a mid-game surge by the West Side Greers Ferry and claimed a 7-5 win in the baseball season opener at the Heber Springs Sports Complex Monday.

The Panthers built a 4-0 lead before the Eagles tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fourth inning.

Heber Springs took the lead with one run in the bottom of the inning and added two runs in the sixth. West Side scored one run in the seventh.

Heber Springs used five pitchers with Austin Winchester earning the win in relief. Garrett Hudspeth struck out the final two batters in the seventh for the save.

“We were nervous last week if we could play this game because of predicted weather problems,” Heber Springs coach Scott Bramlett said. “It was good to get the win. One thing the guys did well was to play hard throughout the game.”

Bramlett liked how the defense performed.

“We turned two double plays,” he said. “When West Side scored four runs in the fourth, it came from walking batters. We must do a better job of throwing strikes and also hit the ball better.”

Heber Springs was held to four hits, all singles.

The Panthers were scheduled to play at Dover in the 4-4A Conference opener today and intended to use more than one pitcher against the Eagles, who advanced to the Class 1A state tournament semifinals last season.

“We were trying to keep within 30 pitches, so they can pitch at Dover,” Bramlett said. “I was impressed with Winchester, who shut them down in the sixth inning. We came back with our best pitcher (Hudspeth), who struck out the final two batters in the seventh.”

Heber Springs took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Hudspeth hit a single, advanced on an infield out and scored on Matthew Cook’s hit to right field.

The Panthers added three runs in the second. Cole Payton started the inning by reaching on an error, Adam Martin was hit by a pitch and Alec Kelley walked to load the bases. Cole Payton scored on a passed ball and then Hudspeth hit a 2-run single, increasing the lead to 4-0.

West Side tied the game in the fourth inning. Ashton Carr walked and scored on Ashton Klepko’s double. Kiepko, who advanced to third on an overthrow, crossed the plate on an error. Jared Cothren and Travis Gentry each hit RBI singles to tie the game.

Heber Springs regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Fate Berry walked and was replaced by courtesy runner Levy Phillips, who scored from third base on an infield out for the 5-4 lead.

The Panthers added two runs in the sixth when Kelley and Hudspeth each scored on passed balls.

“We drew walks and did a good job of running the bases,” Bramlett said. “We did a good job of putting the ball in play.”

West Side scored one run in the seventh as Gentry came home on a bases-loaded walk to Gage Fetterman.

Bramlett expects another close game at Dover today.

“Dover will be ready for us,” he said. “We need to bring our best and get a conference win.”

West Side returns to action on Thursday when it travels to Calico Rock for a nonconference contest.

LINESCORE/HIGHLIGHTS
West Side Greers Ferry 000 400 1 - 5 5 2
Heber Springs          130 102 x - 7 4 2
WEST SIDE GREERS FERRY OFFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Travis Gentry 2 singles, 1 RBI, 3 stolen bases; Ashton Klepko double, 1 RBI; Jared Cothren single, 1 RBI; Dax Hipp single; Gage Fetterman 1 RBI; Brenton Hipp 1 stolen base.
HEBER SPRINGS OFFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Garrett Hudspeth 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Matthew Cook single, 2 RBIs; Gage Buford single; Alec Kelley 1 stolen base; Cole Payton 1 stolen base.
WEST SIDE PITCHING: Jared Cothren 0 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run in .1 inning; Travis Gentry 1 hit, 1 run, 1 earned run, 1 strikeout, 2 walk in .2 inning; Colby Stout (0-1) 0 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks in 1.1 inning; Dax Hipp 0 hits, 0 runs in .2 inning; Asa Carr 0 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks in 1 inning; Brenton Knapp 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning.
HEBER SPRINGS PITCHING: Gage Buford 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 strikeout, 3 walks in 2 innings; Alec Kelley 1 hit, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 strikeout, 3 walks in 1.1 inning; Mathew Cook 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 strikeouts, 2 walks in 1.2 inning; Austin Winchester (1-0) 1 hit, 1 run, 1 earned run, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks in 1.1 inning; Garrett Hudspeth (1 save) 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 strikeouts in .2 inning.