|Lonoke's Keith Lingo makes contact on an RBI single in the fifth inning against Nashville on Saturday. (Photos by Mark Buffalo)|
By Mark Buffalo
LONOKE — The Lonoke Jackrabbits couldn’t get a timely hit when they needed it and it cost them in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament Saturday at the Lonoke Ball Park.
Nashville scored two runs late to beat Lonoke 4-2, ending the Jackrabbits season at 21-13.
Lonoke led 10 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the fourth. The Jackrabbits also outhit the Scrappers 8-4 but Nashville earned four walks and had two batters hit by pitches.
“I don’t really feel like they earned a lot, as far as driving in runs,” said first-year Lonoke coach Chris Foor. “We helped them with walks and untimely errors. And we allowed innings to continue.”
Lonoke also had several more base runners thrown out at second and third bases.
“We’re aggressive on the base paths,” Foor said. “But we made some errors on the base paths that were just not fundamentally sound. We had a couple of missed signals.”
Despite all that, Foor was proud of the way his team fought against Nashville.
“We showed them that we belong right there with them,” he said. “We just couldn’t get that one hit to put us over the edge.”
Lonoke scored the game’s first run in the top of the first. Dalton Smith reached on a fielder’s choice and scored when Tallon Swint reached on an error.
Nashville scored twice in the bottom of the frame to take a 2-1 lead. Zach Jamison walked and reached second on a error, which allowed Trace Beene on first base. They scored later in the frame.
Lonoke had a chance to do some damage in the second inning, loading the bases with one out. But a double play ended the threat.
The Jackrabbits loaded the bases again in the fourth. With two outs, Christian Cooper and Kameron Cole were on third and second respectively when Nashville intentionally walked Casey Martin to load the bases. However, the threat ended on a called third strike.
Nashville loaded the bases in the fourth but Lonoke pitcher Haven Hunter worked out of the jam.
Lonoke finally tied the game in the top of the fifth. Hunter reached on an error and scored on a two-out single by Keith Lingo.
The tie was short lived. With two outs in the fifth, Nashville’s Austin Bowman doubled to center field. Martin relieved Hunter on the mound and got an infield ground ball but an error allowed the go-ahead run to score.
The Scrappers added a run in the sixth Jamison tripled with two outs and scored on a single by Chris Willard.
Lonoke had a chance in the top of the seventh. Hunter led off with a single and Kade Stuart walked. Swint then hit into a double play, leaving Hunter at third base. Lingo popped out for the final out of the game.
Cole led Lonoke at the plate, going 2 for 3. Hunter was 2 for 4. Also getting hits were Stuart, Lingo and Caleb Horton.
Hunter got the loss, despite giving up only two hits in 4 2/3 innings of work. He struck out six.
Foor said he enjoyed his first year of coaching at Lonoke.
“I love the people here,” Foor said. “People say that to be politically correct but those that have gotten to know me in this town know that it is not who I am. I’m a truthful person and I love the people of Lonoke. If you are up front and honest, I truly believe the people here would give you the shirt off their backs if you asked them.”
Foor said that it starts with the kids.
“The kids at the high school are fun and energetic,” he said. “When you get onto the ball field, they’ve got fire to them. They want to succeed. They want to learn. It makes it enjoyable to be around and it’s fun to watch them grow when they have that kind of attitude.”
|Lonoke pitcher Haven Hunter makes a delivery against Nashville.|