PEARCY, Ark. – JT Bardwell smashed a drive to the base of the right field fence Tuesday that was dropped for a three-base error. Two batters later Bardwell raced home on a wild pitch to give Lake Hamilton a 2-1 victory over Pine Bluff in eight innings.
The Wolves (11-3, 2-1) struggled on their own diamond the entire game offensively. They managed only three hits off Pine Bluff starter William Howell and reliever David Carroll, the hard-luck loser.
Senior Carson Harris started on the mound for the Wolves. He was relieved by senior Austin Hale in the seventh after throwing his quota of pitches (115). Hale pitched out of jams in both the seventh and eighth to get the win.
“It was one of those days,” said Lake Hamilton coach Matt Weigand, who was admittedly disappointed despite winning. “You’ll have crazy games, but we’ve got to be mentally tougher than we were today. We didn’t run out a ball that was foul, and spins back fair. Lost a baserunner at second when the fielder was pulled off the bag, but tagged our guy out. Then we get picked off first. That was really disappointing, because you’ve got to be focused and locked in when it comes to baserunning.
Bardwell spoils Zebras’ performance
“I loved the way Pine Bluff played. They played with energy, and they were excited. We came out flat. That’s baseball! It’s an up and down year, a grind, and a marathon. We’ve got to learn from it and move on, and make sure we don’t come out like that again.”
The Zebras (1-5, 1-2) scored their only run in the first inning off Harris. Leadoff batter Cason Blunt was hit by a pitch. Blunt moved up on a grounder to shortstop, and eventually scored after two wild pitches.
Lake Hamilton pulled even in the third after Ryan Fields walked. Two wild pitches and a grounder brought Fields around the bases.
Both teams wasted scoring opportunities
Pine Bluff wasted a scoring opportunity in the fourth. The Zebras had a runner at first with two outs when a flyball to center was dropped. The ball was relayed to second in time to get the batter/runner out to end the threat.
“We completely didn’t swing the bat at all today,” said Weigand. “There could be a lot of factors. It could have been the weather, or coming back from spring break. We were swinging the bat well during spring break. We can hit, I promise you that. I’m really not concerned about our hitting. It’s our mental approach. We’ve got to attack fastballs.”
Bardwell, Fields and Kohen Manley had the Wolves’ only hits in the game. Blake Hegwood had two singles for Pine Bluff, while Blunt and Landon Holcomb contributed one hit each.