Panthers’ season ends at regional tournament

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Heber Springs senior J.T. Spears delivers a pitch to a Farmington batter during Friday’s regional tournament at Morrilton. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

MORRILTON — The Heber Springs Panthers again couldn’t escape giving up one big inning.

Farmington, the top-seeded team for the Class 4A North Baseball Regional, scored five runs in the bottom of the third inning and pulled away to a 7-0 win in and quarterfinal game at the Devil Dog Yard Complex on Friday.
The Panthers finished the season with a record of 12-13.

“That has been one of the things we battled all year, getting over the one bad inning,” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “We made a couple of errors and then Farmington had two base hits to drive runners home. Our pitchers threw well and executed the game plan of not throwing many fastballs. We kept them off-balanced most of the time. They took advantage of our mistakes.”

Farmington righthander Myles Harvey pitched a one-hit shutout and allowed six Heber Springs hitters to reach base. Harvey walked four and struck out 12 batters.

The Panthers’ only scoring threat came when they loaded the bases in the fifth inning. Ty West reached on an error, John McBroome was hit by a pitch and Zane Lozeau walked with one out. The inning ended on a double play.

“We didn’t hit much and when we did, it was right at the defense,” Bridges said. “The pitcher struck out 12 batters. It’s difficult to win when you strike out that many times.”

Farmington sent nine batters to the plate during the five-run fifth inning. Lawson DeVault’s RBI single started the rally. Luke Elsik and Case Enderland each singled before Michael White hit a 2-run double. Chase Brown drove home two runners with a base hit.

The Cardinals scored runs during the fourth and sixth on Enderland’s RBI single and an infield out.

Despite the loss, Bridges said the team progressed throughout the season and a bright future looms ahead.

“Considering our inexperience, we did all right,” Bridges said. “We played four freshmen, three or four sophomores and two juniors most of the time. We had three senior players, and I feel for them. They (seniors) helped to change the program.”

The Panthers achieved two of their season goals — avoid the play-in game for the conference tournament and qualify for the regional tournament.

Bridges said the goals will be higher next season.

“We’re looking forward to the future with our younger players,” Bridges said. “Expectations next year is to punch our ticket for the state tournament. We played better every game, but that one inning got us almost every game. Hopefully, we learn to finish games, get rid of the one bad inning and play clean seven innings.”

Heber Springs 000 000 0–0 1 2
Farmington       005 101 x–7 8 3
HEBER SPRINGS HITTERS: J.T. Spears single.
HEBER SPRINGS PITCHERS: J.T. Spears (LP) 5 hits, 6 runs, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 1 strikeout in 4 innings; Corbin Jones 3 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts in 2 innings.
FARMINGTON HITTERS: Lawson DeVault single, double, 1 RBI; Chase Brown 2 singles, 2 RBIs; Michael White double, 2 RBIs; Caden Elsik single, 1 RBI; Kyson Bridges single 1 stolen base; Luke Elsik single; Case Enderland 1 RBI, 1 stolen base.
FARMINGTON PITCHER: Myles Harvey (WP) 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 walks and 12 strikeouts.

Panthers advance to regionals, face conference champ in district

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Heber Springs freshman Liam Buffalo gets his cut at the plate last Saturday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex. The Panthers will face Morrilton today in the district tournament semifinals. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

POTTSVILLE – The pressure of qualifying for the Class 4A West Regional Baseball Tournament became a reality for the Heber Springs Panthers on Tuesday.

Freshman Liam Buffalo’s sacrifice fly broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning, the first of three runs. Buffalo then pitched the seventh inning, ending the game on a strikeout, as the Panthers clinched its first regional tournament berth since 2018 with a 3-2 win against Clarksville in the 4-4A district quarterfinals.

The Panthers (12-11) will play Morrilton (17-3) at 4 p.m. Thursday in the tournament semifinals.

“This game was filled with pressure, just like the first game at Clarksville (during the regular season),” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “We had scoring opportunities early in the game. We had runners on second and third bases in the first inning and couldn’t score. We had a runner at second base with no outs and didn’t score during the second inning. We had a lead-off triple (by Kenan Sneed) in the third. We tried a suicide-squeeze bunt, but failed to score. We finally scored later in the game and held on to win.”

Sneed just missed hitting for the cycle with a single and double to go along with his triple and had an RBI. J.T. Spears had a single and double, plus an RBI. Corbin Jones contributed an RBI double.

Spears was the starting and winning pitcher. He held Clarksville to four hits, walked three and struck out three batters in five innings. Jones took over the pitching duties in the sixth before Buffalo answered the call in the seventh.

“J.T. pitched well again for five innings,” Bridges said. “We misplayed some balls during the sixth inning and Clarksville took advantage of the scoring opportunities. Clarksville loaded the bases against Buffalo in the seventh with two outs, but Liam struck out the last batter to end the game.”

Heber Springs’ focus now turns to regular season champion Morrilton, which won the only game between the two teams this year. But Bridges expects a different outcome against the Devil Dogs at the tournament.

“I told the players we were playing with house money because no one expected us to be here (district semifinals),” Bridges said. “We are already in the regional and now can play more relaxed. We will approach it like playing an another game and an opportunity to improve. If we do win, we will play in the final on Friday. Winning also would give us a better seed for the regional tournament.”

Bridges said he was undecided on Thursday’s starting pitcher, but it would probably either be Jones or Ty West.

Heber Springs 3, Clarksville 2
Heber Springs hitters: Kenan Sneed single, double, triple; J.T. Spears single, double, 1 RBI; Corbin Jones double, 1 RBI; Liam Buffalo 1 RBI, 1 stolen base.
Heber Springs pitchers: J.T. Spears (WP) 4 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts in 5 innings; Corbin Jones 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning; Liam Buffalo (Save) 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning.

Panthers fall to Dardanelle; to battle Subiaco

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Heber Springs senior Zane Lozeau reacts to a play in the bottom of the seventh-inning as the Panthers comeback attempt came up short against Dardanelle on Tuesday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Weather put Heber Springs’ baseball 4-4A Conference Tournament seeding on hold for now.

The Panthers (2-3 in 4-4A, 10-11 overall) lost to Dardanelle (4-2 in 4-4A, 12-5 overall) 5-3 Tuesday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex and missed an opportunity of clinching a No. 2 seed for the tournament.

“This game really hurts because it has been a while since Heber had an opportunity of a No. 2 seed,” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “The guys played and worked hard, but we got to do that before the seventh inning.”

Dardanelle clinched the No. 2 seed with the win, while Morrilton will be the top seed. The Sand Lizards and Devil Dogs assured themselves of regional tournament berths.

Heber Springs and Ozark currently are tied for third place in the conference standings. Weather canceled Wednesday’s Subiaco Academy at Ozark game. Ozark needs one win to earn the No. 3 seed. The Panthers, who are scheduled to host Subiaco Academy on Thursday. Heber Springs can avoid the play-in game with a win against Subiaco Academy.

“We want to avoid the play-in game,” Bridges said. “That would force us to win two games for a regional tournament berth, instead of just one win. I’m hoping playing on senior night will give us extra motivation against Subiaco Academy. We need to play well and win. I like our chances, especially playing at home.”

J.T. Spears, who was the starting and losing pitcher, allowed five hits, four runs with nine strikeouts and four walks against Dardanelle. Corbin Jones relieved Spears at the beginning of the seventh inning, allowing one hit and one run with two strikeouts.

“J.T. pitched well,” Bridges said. “We probably needed to throw more off-speed pitches in that first inning because they had trouble hitting those type of pitches. Instead, we threw all fastballs and they hit them. I saw something from J.T. that I’ve not seen this year, more energy. He got into his zone during the second, third and fourth innings.”

Zane Rose started Dardanelle’s three-run first inning with a walk. Drew Vega hit a double, putting runners on second and third bases before Robert Millard’s two-run double. Millard later scored on Colvy Holt’s RBI single.

“Just wish there was a way to take the three runs Dardanelle scored in the first inning away,” Bridges said. “I thought (third baseman) Liam (Buffalo) had a chance to make a backhanded catch, but the ball hit the bag and bounced over Liam’s head.”

Dardanelle scored runs in the fifth and seventh innings for a 5-0 lead before the Panthers threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Heber Springs loaded the bases with no outs when Xander Lindley and pinch-hitter Ty West each walked and Preston Fitzsimmons was hit by a pitch. Lindley scored on Zane Lozeau’s sacrifice fly and Kenan Sneed followed with an RBI single. Fitzsimmons came home on Cole Peyton’s sac fly, reducing Dardanelle’s lead to 5-3 with two outs.

The game ended when reliever Ty Roper, who replaced starter Titus Spencer with one out in the seventh, on a strikeout.

“We had good at-bats during the seventh inning,” Bridges said. “We need to do that throughout the game and get on base anyway we can. When we do that, we will have opportunities to win games.”

Dardanelle        300 010 1–5 6 1
Heber Springs 000 000 3–3 4 2

DARDANELLE HITTERS: Robert Millard single, double, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Colvy Holt 2 singles, 1 RBI; Drew Vega double, 1 stolen base; Clayton Weatherford single, 1 RBI, 1 stolen base.

HEBER SPRINGS HITTERS: Kenan Sneed 2 singles, 1 RBI, 1 stolen base; Zane Lozeau double, 1 RBI; Preston Fitzpatrick single; Cole Peyton 1 RBI.

DARDANELLE PITCHERS: Titus Spencer (WP) 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts in 6 innings; Ty Roper (Save) 1 hit, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout in 1 inning.

HEBER SPRINGS PITCHERS: J.T. Spears (LP) 5 hits, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts in 6 innings; Corbin Jones 1 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning.

Panthers fall to Ozark in 4-4A play

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Heber Springs’ Kenan Sneed. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Ozark rallied for four runs in the fourth inning and two runs in the fifth and defeated the Heber Springs Panthers 8-3 in a 4-4A Conference baseball game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex on Friday.

The Hillbillies (2-2 in 4-4A, 8-7 overall) are tied for third place with the win. Meanwhile, the Panthers (1-2 in 4-4A, 8-10 overall) slipped into a tie for fifth place with Pottsville (1-2 in 4-4A, 7-7 overall). Morrilton (3-0 in 4-4A, 12-1 overall) remains at the top of the standings, one game ahead of Dardanelle (2-1 in 4-4A, 9-5 overall) and Clarksville (2-1 in 4-4A, 7-4 overall).

Kayden McAnally led Ozark with three singles and a stolen base. Sterling Strick hit a single and a double with 3 RBIs. Dylan Herriage, who was the winning pitcher, had a 2-run double Herriage allowed nine hits and three run with seven strikeouts in 6 and two/third innings. McAnally relieved Herriage and got the final out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Kenan Sneed had two singles and a double with one stolen base for the Panthers. Corbin Jones hit a 2-run double and Liam Buffalo had an RBI single in the fifth inning.

Jones, who was the starting and losing pitcher, scattered five hits and yielded five runs before Ty West relieved with one out in the top of the fourth inning. West pitched through the fifth inning. J.T. Spears finished with four strikeouts and allowed three hits and one earned during the final two innings.

Ozark took a 1-0 lead in the second inning before breaking the game open with four runs in the fourth. The Hillbillies added two runs in the fifth and scored one run in the seventh.

Heber Springs scored its runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Heber Springs resumes conference play at Clarksville on Tuesday and then it will host Subiaco Academy on Friday. The conference games will start at 4:30 p.m.

Ozark                   010 420 1–8 10 0
Heber Springs 000 030 0–3 9 1
Ozark hitters: Kayden McAnally 3 singles, 1 stolen base; Sterling Strick single, double, 3 RBIs; Dylan Herriage double, 2 RBIs; Spencer Lippott single, 2 RBIs; Richdan Case single, 1 RBI; Landon Wright single; Dax Shaffer single.
Heber Springs hitters: Kenan Sneed 2 singles, double, 1 stolen base; Corbin Jones double, 2 RBIs; Liam Buffalo single, 1 RBI; J.T. Spears single; Logan Lozeau single; John McBroome single; Preston Fitzpatrick single.
Ozark pitchers: Dylan Herriage (WP) 9 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts in 6.2 innings; Kayden McAnally 0 hits, 0 runs in .1 inning.
Heber Springs pitchers: Corbin Jones (LP) 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts in 3.1 innings; Ty West 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 strikeout in 1.2 inning; J.T. Spears 3 hits, 1 earned run, 4 strikeouts in 2 innings.

Heber Springs blanks Pangburn in nonconference play, host Newport today

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Heber Springs sophomore Corbin Jones delivers a first-inning pitch against Pangburn. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs hopes a return to the Heber Springs Sports Complex leads to more success on the field.

The Panthers (2-4) began the season by shutting out Pangburn at home and won one of four games against at the Sheridan  Tournament.

Heber Springs started the tournament with losses to 6A Sheridan and 5A Searcy before the 6-0 shutout against Pangburn at home last Thursday. The Panthers lost to 6A Little Rock Catholic last Friday before a 14-9 win against Malvern in the tournament finale on Saturday.

On Monday, Heber Springs fell to Beebe 11-4. The Panthers are scheduled to host Newport at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Batesville at 5 p.m. Friday.

“We played two tough games to start the season,” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “We played them close, but unable to finish it at the end of the games. Against Pangburn, we got out on them early in the game. Pangburn was a good team and played at last year’s state tournament.”

Corbin Jones struck out three and allowed two hits in five innings. Ty West pitched the sixth and Xander Lindley relieved West in the seventh.

“Corbin did a good job and answered back from his first start,” Bridges said. “He threw 38 pitches through four innings and finished with 66 pitches. He got in a jam during the fifth inning, but got out of it. The other guys stepped up and finished the game. Ty pitched well and used his split-finger pitch and a change-up. Xander pitched his first game and did well, too.”

John McBroome led the Heber Springs offense with two singles. Liam Buffalo had two RBIs and Zane Lozeau had an RBI.

“We finally took advantage of opportunities with runners in scoring position,” Bridges said.

Pangburn          000 000 0–0 3 2
Heber Springs 010 230 x–6 4 1
Pangburn hitters: Braxton Butler single; Cole Ramsey single; Stephen Toumajan single.
Heber Springs hitters: John McBroom 2 singles; Liam Buffalo single, 2 RBIs; Kenan Sneed single; Zane Lozeau 1 RBI.
Pangburn pitchers: Braxton Butler 1 hit, 1 earned runs, 3 walks, 1 strikeout in 1.1 inning; Trevor Evans 1 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 3 walks, 1 strikeout in 2 innings; Xander Kane 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning; Rhett Tharp 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk in 1.2 inning.
Heber Springs pitchers: Corbin Jones 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts in 5 innings; Ty West 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning; Xander Lindley 1 hits, 0 runs in 1 inning.

PHOTO: Heber Springs Homecoming Parade

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Heber Springs football players Corbin Jones, Dalton Yancey and Chris Edwards. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

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PHOTO: Heber Springs Homecoming Pep Rally

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Part of the Heber Springs High School royalty poses for photos, bottom from left, Jackson West (23), Zach Thomas (57), Austin Winchester. Ava Noble, Kenan Sneed (15), Madison Clemons, Chris Edwards, Parker Brown, Macy Evans, Corbin Jones. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

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ALL PHOTOS ARE COPYRIGHTED. The owner of the copyright does grant free personal and/or social media use for all photos as long as photo credit (when reasonably possible) is given to this website. Use for any other commercial purpose or other publication (such as other news or blog sites) without permission is prohibited. All photos are taken in a public setting where a reasonable right to privacy does not exist. They are taken for news gathering and informational purposes. If you wish to have photo removed, please get in touch with the publisher of the website through the comments section with the reason for removal request.