|The Lonoke Jackrabbits are the 2015 4A-2 District Tournament champions. (Photos by Mark Buffalo)|
By Mark Buffalo
SEARCY — For the third consecutive season, the Lonoke Jackrabbits are the 4A-2 baseball district tournament champions.
Lonoke rallied from a late three-run deficit against Central Arkansas Christian in the semifinals then routed Newport in the championship game to win the tournament. Lonoke will be the top seed in the Class 4A East Region tournament, which starts Friday at Pocahontas.
In the first game, CAC led 7-4 after the top of the sixth inning. Savonte Rountree led off with a double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Elijah Seigrist. He scored on a ground out by Casey Martin.
Lonoke held the Mustangs scoreless in the top of the seventh, setting up some heroics in the bottom of the frame.
Cody Martin reached on an error to start the inning. Nick Graves was hit by a pitch. Christian James followed with a double to tie the game at 7-7.
Pinch hitter Kade Stuart followed with a double to drive in James with the game-winning run
|Kade Stuart knocks in the winning run against CAC.|
|Christian James celebrates after driving in the tying runs against CAC.|
In the second game, Lonoke fell behind 4-1 to Newport but rallied for a 14-4 win in five innings. Lonoke relief pitcher Keith Lingo did not allow a run in the final three innings.
"With that game with CAC, we knew it was going to be a dogfight," Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery said. "They played a heck of game last night against Heber Springs, winning in 10 innings. They are playing extremely well late in the year."
Lowery said his team made a lot of mistakes against CAC.
"We found a way to win and that's big," he said.
Newport was playing its fourth game in three days and the Greyhounds were struggling with pitching.
"They had it tough having to play so many games in three days," Lowery said. "We did a good job of staying patient at the plate, taking walks and doing what we needed to do to pull away."
Lowery said Lingo was injured in the first practice of the season, tearing a ligament away from his hip.
"We throw him in in a big spot and he throws three scoreless innings," Lowery said of Lingo. "I'm proud for him. I can't say enough about our kids playing good defense behind him. He did his job, coming in and throwing strikes."
Lonoke will play Trumann in the first round of the regional tournament at 10 a.m. Friday. The Jackrabbits have been the top seed the last two seasons and gotten beat, denying them a trip to the Class 4A state tournament.
"I feel good about our chances," Lowery said. "If we make a lot of mistakes like we did today, it will be tough. The other side of the regional is pretty tough."
|Keith Lingo pitches against Newport in the championship game. Lingo pitched three scoreless innings to get the win.|