Leader Blues

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

SPORTS >> Lions dominant, roll to title game

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

As rich as Searcy baseball tradition is, it wasnít until last spring that the Lions won their first-ever state tournament game.

Add two more to that total, as well as a state championship berth this Friday in Fayetteville. The Lions overpowered a pair of opponents this week, walloping Texarkana in the semifinals, 10-0 on Tuesday afternoon at Burns Park. On Monday, they took care of Watson Chapel, last yearís 6A runners-up, 11-1.

Searcy will take on Benton (27-2) at 2 p.m. on Friday at Baum Stadium.

On Tuesday, Searcy wasted no time as its first four batters reached base and scored, starting with a walk to leadoff man Jordan
Bradley. Jonathan Luthe ripped a triple into the right field corner and Mac Ellis laced an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Dillon Howard followed with a two-run homer over the fence in right to make it 4-0. That was going to be more than enough for Luthe, who fanned 10 and allowed just two hits in the six-inning affair.

Lutheís double and Mac Ellisí two-run shot over the right-field fence in the third made it 6-0. Zach Langley reached on an error by the Texarkana pitcher, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Preston Tarkingtonís groundout.

Tarkington made a miraculous play at third the following inning, diving to his left to snag a sharply hit grounder and, from his knees, throwing the runner out.

Searcy put Texarkana out of its misery with three more runs in the sixth to invoke the mercy rule.

Benton, which like Searcy, went through its conference play undefeated, handled Sheridan 3-1 on Monday and dispatched Lake
Hamilton 6-0 on Tuesday afternoon.

SEARCY 11,
WATSON CHAPEL 1


In the quarterfinals, the early play was as sloppy as the field itself, with neither teamís pitcher being able to find the plate early.

But while Searcy hurler Dillon Howard was able to pitch around three walks in the first and eventually settle down, Watson Chapelís Sebastian Stargell never did.

The Wildcats were able to parlay three walks, an error and a single into only one run in the first inning, while Searcy took advantage of two walks and two hit batters to score two in the bottom half without benefit of a hit.

Searcy broke it open in the third when it sent 11 men to the plate, scoring six of them. Walks to Mac Ellis and Dillon Howard were followed by a bunt single by Zach Langley and an RBI single by Preston Tarkington.

Tate Rudell followed with a two-run single, and Jordan Bradley brought in two more with a double into right center. On the play, Nick Ginardi took advantage of a mental lapse and raced home to make it 8-1.

Howard, who pitched out of a jam in the third when he overcame his own throwing error to turn a double play on the next batter, settled down to retire the final eight batters he faced.

Tarkington belted a no-doubter home run in the fourth to bring home Langley and make it 10-1. His fourth RBI of the game ó on a single in the fifth ó ended the game with the mercy rule.

After not getting a hit through the first two innings, the Lions belted out nine over the final three. Tarkington was 3 of 4 and Langley added two hits.

Howard allowed three hits and three walks while striking out six.