After being limited to three hits in the previous game, the Pointers rap out 11 in the win.
The song “Sultans of Swing” played appropriately on Tuesday during a late break at Van Buren’s Iverson Riggs Memorial Field at the Field of Dreams.
Van Buren rapped out 11 hits and battered five Springdale Har-Ber pitchers in an 8-4 to win to break a second-place tie in the 7A-West.
Van Buren (17-3, 8-3) scored in five of its six innings at the plate and had offensive contributions up and down the lineup.
“You’ve got to have guys on base and you’ve got to have guys to knock them in,” Van Buren head coach David Loyd said. “Guys were competing real hard at the plate and trying to have quality at-bats.”
Leading just 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Van Buren tacked on three runs. Bryson Patrick led off the inning with a ringing double and walks to Landrey Wilkerson and Chase Moore loaded the bases. Ethan Holmes, who was hitless in three previous at-bats, bombed a stand-up double to deep center to score Patrick and Wilkerson. Conner Catron followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Moore.
“That was huge,” Loyd said. “We managed to get all three guys in there. That took some pressure off. They’re all important. We’re coming down the wire here and everybody is competing for seedings for the state tournament. Everything gets magnified at this time of the year.”
The additional runs in the inning were more than just insurance runs for the top of the seventh, but three key runs for the tie-breaking situation in the conference. Van Buren remains a game back of Fayetteville, and moved a game ahead of Har-Ber to remain in sole possession of second place. Bentonville is also close behind.
Tuesday, Har-Ber (16-9, 7-4) trotted out Blake Adams to the mound. Adams is a talented sophomore who has already committed to the Arkansas Razorbacks as a member of the 2019 class. He struck out six on Tuesday and has 63 strikeouts in 48 innings this year.
“We knew what we were getting into,” Loyd said. “We know he’s really, really good. We knew we were going to have to battle hard and have some good at-bats.”
Har-Ber scored a run to lead off the game, but Van Buren answered with a run in the bottom of the first on Conner Catron’s single that scored Wilkerson, who opened with a single.
Wilkerson’s sacrifice fly and Moore’s bloop single in the bottom of the second had Van Buren up, 3-1, after Patrick and Jeremiah Douglas had consecutive singles.
Har-Ber, though, took the lead with a three-spot in the top of the third on three hits and took advantage of a couple of walks.
Van Buren again answered.
“That was what was impressive,” Loyd said. “It was disappointing to let them jump back and get three there, but we responded to it. We didn’t hang our heads, and battled back and competed hard.”
In the bottom of the third, Catron singled to open the inning, stole second and scored on Trevor Johnson’s double to the wall in dead left to tie the game at 4-4.
The Pointers took the lead with another run in the fourth inning, which was Adams’ final inning after throwing 81 pitches.
Douglas walked, stole second and scored on Catron’s two-out single through the hole.
“We competed extremely well at the plate because he throws really good,” Loyd said. “We battled real hard and got some timely hits, some key hits. It wasn’t our best game defensively, but we did enough defensively and our pitchers battled. We really came through with some clutch hits at the plate.”
Catron finished three-for-three at the plate, drove in three runs and made a sliding catch of a dying liner in left field in the seventh inning.
“First at-bat, I saw two curveballs,” Catron said. “The second curveball, I just drove it up the middle. The second at-bat, it was two fastballs and I hit it. They kept throw me the same pitch. The third at-bat, it was the first pitch and he threw me a changeup, and I just drove it through the hole. They were leaving it over the plate and I was hitting it.”
Only one spot in Van Buren’s lineup was hitless and Wilkerson, Moore, Holmes Catron and Johnson all drove in runs.
“We’ve got some guys that can hit, and they’re pretty confident guys,” Loyd said. “We kind of challenged them a little hit before we started. They look forward to the challenge, especially today. They were looking forward to playing that game. It showed.”
After battling through the 33-pitch third inning, Van Buren starter Dalton Reeves threw two scoreless innings before Johnson came in after a leadoff single in the sixth. Johnson retired six of the seven batters he faced, including two strikeouts, to earn the save.
Van Buren scored in all but the fifth inning and had base runners all six innings. The Pointers had 11 hits, had five more base runners on walks, and stole four bases.
“It was a super fun game,” Catron said. “Everybody was having a good time for sure. It was a good win. We needed this win. Hopefully, we can get another one on Thursday.”
HAR-BER 2, VAN BUREN 1
The Pointers (17-4, 8-4) dropped a pitching duel on Thursday as Har-Ber was able to escape with the win.
Caleb Grace earned the win for seven innings of work. He scattered three hits with three walks and one earned run.
Ethan Holmes also tossed a complete game (six innings) with five hits two walks.
Both pitchers had seven strikeouts each.
Har-Ber took the lead in the fourth with back-to-back doubles. Grace led off with a single followed by a double from Lincoln Rasmussen and another from Mac McCrosky to drive in two runs.
Landry Wilkerson had a solo home run at the top of the sixth for the Pointers only run in the contest.