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.