TEXARKANA, Ark. – Lakeside Rams were possibly six outs away from being eliminated from the 5A South baseball championship race Friday night at Razorback Field against Arkansas High.
Senior southpaw Braylon Bishop had held the Rams to one run and one hit through five innings, and the Razorbacks were nursing a 2-1 lead. Bishop, whose future is not as a pitcher, but likely as an outfielder in the pro ranks after the June MLB Draft. He had thrown 97 pitches when AHS coach Layne Berry went to his bullpen.
Two more pitching changes would be made in the sixth inning as Lakeside exploded for eight runs and a 9-2 victory. The Rams (15-4, 8-3) remain one game behind Sheridan in the conference race, and still a half-game behind Arkansas High (12-13, 9-3).
“It was a testament to our guys, who kept fighting,” said winning coach Garrett Bock. “We had a plan. Our players believed in the plan, and it ended up working for us. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys for sticking with the plan we gave them. Braylon (Bishop) competes, and he’s a very talented player. We knew our best chance was to get him off the mound.”
Freshman gets win for Lakeside Rams
Bock’s strategy worked because freshman left-hander Brady Arnold pitched a gem of his own to keep the Rams close until Bishop made his exit from the mound.
Arkansas High reliever Scott Trumble walked the first batter he faced. One out later he gave up consecutive hits to Ethan Rogers, Brennan Browning, and Arnold, who drove in two runs to give the Rams a 3-2 lead. Graydon Martin followed Trumble to the mound, allowing three hits and walking two. Ryan Wardlaw finally got the third out, but the damage was done.
“When we pitch Braylon we know we’re going to deal with some walks, or hit batters,” said Arkansas High coach Layne Berry. “We knew going into this year we were going to be short on pitching. We’ve got two ones, and a bunch that don’t have a lot of experience. We put Graydon out there and he had been catching the whole game, and was worn out. He threw strikes, but Lakeside put the bat on the ball like they’re supposed to do.
“The bottom line is we have to score more than two runs to win ball games. We haven’t shown that in the last three games. We’re going to keep seeing lefty after lefty until we figure it out.”
Bishop out trying for inside-the-park homer
The Razorbacks took a 1-0 lead in the third on a walk to Danny McWilliams, and triple by Bishop. The University of Arkansas signee tried to stretched his hit to an inside-the-park home run. He was an easy out at the plate. Lakeside fans were unhappy when Bishop didn’t slide and there was minor contact between him and the Rams’ catcher. Bishop was unable to slide because the catcher was up the third base line with the ball in hand, and blocking the plate. He tried to elude the catcher, but gave himself up.
“I didn’t think Bishop should be ejected, but I’m always going to take up for our guys,” said Bock. “I felt like we needed something. We needed a little bit of momentum.”
Bishop took a no-hitter into the fifth when he walked Peyton Ballard with one out. Ethan Cevela just missed a home run with a towering fly to left that was caught. Ballard would score the tying run two batters later on a double to left.
Arkansas High regained the lead in its half of the fifth. McWilliams walked and was forced at second by Wardlaw. Back-to-back singles by Martin and Bishop made it 2-1. Bishop also had an infield hit in the seventh, but eventually got picked off third to end the game.