SPORTS>> AL Owls overpower Comets
BY RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
Abundant Life bounced back from its first loss of the season by pounding Little Rock Mills 12-1 in four innings during the First Arkansas Bank and Trust-Red Devil Classic in Jacksonville.
After winning the Metro Conference preseason tournament, the Owls opened the Red Devil Classic by losing to Little Rock Catholic 7-3 on Saturday.
Missed opportunities was the story for the Owls in the loss to the Rockets.
Abundant Life loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning, but failed to bring a run across the plate.
“That’s hard to overcome against a pitcher like they had going in that one,” Abundant Life coach Wes Johnson said. “We just didn’t take advantage of the chances we had and we lost. It’s pretty simple.”
On Monday, the Owls wasted no time taking advantage of opportunities.
Jake Chambers led off the top of the first inning with a walk, and Payton Seelinger singled two batters later to put runners on first and third for senior right fielder Zac Ray.
Ray responded to the situation by sending the first pitch he saw sailing over the 375-foot sign in straightaway centerfield.
In the second inning, Jerry Lawson walked with one out, and was driven in by a two-out single from Seelinger for the only run of the inning.
Abundant Life made its own opportunities in the third inning, scoring three runs with two outs after the first two batters of the inning failed to reach base.
“This was definitely a different game.” Johnson said. “We made the most of the chances we had and we created some good things on our won. I’m pleased. It was a good win for us after Saturday.”
David Simpson got a two-out single and Lawson then doubled to bring home both runners. He then scored on an RBI single by Colby Woolverton to give the Owls a 7-1 advantage.
The Comets added a single tally in the bottom of the third with a pair of hits sandwiching a Mills walk in the frame, but Abundant Life made certain of an early end to the matchup with five runs in the top of the fourth inning.
junior indfielder Josh Cantrell led off the fourth inning with a double and Seelinger walked to put runners on first and second.
Ray added his fourth RBI with a single and Matt Fink singled to drive in another run.
Two batters later, junior Selby Lawson and Woolverton hit consecutive singles, with Lawson scoring the final run on Woolverton’s base rap.
Junior Richard Eberle got the win on the mound for the Owls, who improved to 5-1 on the season.
It was also Abundant Life’s second win over Mills this season. The Owls beat the Comets 22-10 in a marathon game in the Metro tournament two weekends ago.
“This one was a lot quicker because we didn’t let ‘em back in it like we did last time,” Johnson said.
Ray went 2 for 3 with a home run and four RBIs. Lawson went 2 for 2 with a walk, a double, two RBIs and three runs scored for Abundant Life from the eight hole.
Seelinger was also 2 for 2 with a walk and two runs scored.
Abundant Life’s next game will be against Tuesday night’s winner between Jacksonville and J.A. Fair. The Red Devils lost 8-0 to Greenbrier in the opening round while the War Eagles were on the short end of an 11-2 decision to Sylvan Hills.
Abundant Life gets conference play started later this week when it kicks off a blitz of 5AA-North games.
The Owls will take the field for six conference games in a week, and it starts with a road game against Little Rock Lutheran this Friday.
That will be followed by a doubleheader against Bigelow on Monday, a matchup with Little Rock Epsicopal Tuesday, Arkansas Baptist is scheduled for Thursday and the return match against Lutheran next Friday.
The Owls were undefeated in conference play last year and will be the odds on favorite to repeat as league champions for the third consecutive season.