Taylor Anders tossed four hitless innings and struck out nine while going the distance in Van Buren’s 2-1 win against Bentonville on Wednesday in the 7A/6A-West opener for both clubs.
Anders needed just six pitches in the seventh inning to close out the complete-game gem and salvage a doubleheader split for the Pointers (2-5, 1-1).
"He’s capable of that, and we really needed that after not getting the first one," Van Buren head coach David Loyd said. "He was able to spot his fastball really, really well. Normally, he has a really nice change up, but it wasn’t quite as good tonight so we mixed in his curveball, but he was really spotting his fastball and they were having trouble with that."
Van Buren scratched out single runs in each of the opening two innings against Bentonville’s Kasey Ford.
Jake Bogner walked to lead off the home half of the first inning and went to third on a throwing error after Ford misplayed Levi Froud’s slow roller back up the middle. Ford struck out the next two batters before Bogner scored on a wild pitch.
Anders opened the second inning with a single, took second and third on wild pitches and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Zed Steinmetz.
That was all Van Buren mustered but also all the Pointers needed behind Anders.
"We scratched out just enough to win," Loyd said. "That was big for us to get ahead where we could take a deep breath and relax a little bit. We challenged them after that first game. We did some characteristic things in that one, but they bounced back well."
Brian Gloeckler lined a single to right to open the fifth inning for Bentonville’s first hit off Anders. Blake Werner forced Gloeckler at second, but advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Troy Cahill’s two-out sharp single up the middle.
Kane Koenigseder singled with an out in the sixth inning for Bentonville (5-1, 1-1), but Anders retired the final five batters on four pop outs and a ground ball.
"He did a great job," Bentonville head coach Todd Abbott said. "He pounded the strike zone, and we were unable to put anything together. He was fantastic."
Ford yielded just an earned run but walked three and hit three but struck out 10.
"He struggled a little bit early, but he settled in," Abbott said. "I’m proud of the way he threw."
Bentonville 9, Van Buren 7 (Game 1)
Van Buren made it interesting late, but Bentonville held on to take the lid lifter in the doubleheader.
Bentonville leadoff hitter Cahill set the table with three hits and a pair of runs batted in, including an insurance run in the top of the seventh when his single scored Werner.
Werner also drove in a pair of runs with a double in the second inning, scoring Chad Musteen and Gloeckler that cut an early Van Buren lead to 3-2.
Bentonville took a 6-3 lead in the third inning on an RBI-double by Will Jibas, who scored on a single by Gloeckler. Werner singled with two out and scored on Cahill’s single to cap an unusual inning with two Bentonville runners thrown out at the plate.
Bentonville added two more runs in the fourth on a two-base two-out error, scoring Kane Koenigseder and Jibas.
"We had a lot of good at-bats in the first game up and down the lineup," Abbott said. "It makes a difference. Conversely, we didn’t have as many good at-bats in the second game as we had hoped. It makes a huge difference."
Van Buren took a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run double by Spencer Rabin, scoring Bogner and Froud, who both walked to open the bottom of the first. Rapin scored on catcher Hunter Hogan’s single.
Van Buren scored four runs in the sixth inning, trimming Bentonville’s lead to 8-7. Bogner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring home Steinmetz. Froud followed with a two-run single, and Logan Needham singled home another run.