Greenwood limits Alma to pair of runs in the conference loss.
The Greenwood Bulldogs capped a solid week on Friday.
Greenwood strung together four of their seven hits, and Cooper Van Kooten did the rest on the mound in a 4-2 win over rival Alma in a 6A/5A-1 game.
Greenwood (13-6, 5-1 6A/5A-1) completed the season sweep over the Airedales, and capped a 3-0 week with a win over Russellville on Tuesday and then a nonconference win against Springdale on Thursday
“It’s always tough to win back-to-back days,” Greenwood head coach Trey Holloway said. “To win a state tournament or a conference tournament, you have to win some back-to-back games. We got home around 12 o’clock last night and get right back out here and get after it again.”
Greenwood jumped on Alma (4-12, 2-5) early for four runs.
With an out in the top of the first inning, Van Kooten walked and took second on Peyton Holt’s single. Van Kooten took third on a fly ball to right. Holt then stole second, and Van Kooten scored when the catcher’s throw sailed into centerfield.
Greenwood added three runs in the third inning, taking advantage of a couple of fortuitous plays.
Ronnie Berg led off the third inning with a sharp single. Colton Sagely singled when a probable double-play grounder up the middle bounced off the water sprinkler cover behind the pitcher’s mound, putting Bulldogs at first and second. Van Kooten followed with a soft single just over the third baseman, scoring Berg. Holt, after Alma failed to catch a foul ball, doubled to left on a liner that nicked the third baseman’s glove, scoring Sagely. Van Kooten then scored for a 4-0 lead on a wild pitch.
“I don’t want to bunt them,” Holloway said. “I don’t want them to move them over. I want them to drive them in. They did a good job of executing that inning.”
Alma starter Parker Edwards then struck out the side, but the damage had been done, started by the hard-luck bounce.
“It hit the water cover,” Alma head coach Kevin Edwards said. “It is a double-play, our shortstop’s there. We had a dropped foul ball that ended up hurting us. Then he doubles down the line on a ball that nicks off my third baseman’s glove. He should have already been out if we catch the popup. Then we go K, K, K. We’re possibly out of that inning with one run scored.”
Parker Edwards gave up just one hit the rest of the way until reaching the maximum pitch-count limit with an out in the seventh, which was elevated due to the prolonged third inning.
“The fluky things you have no control over,” Kevin Edwards said. “I told Parker, you can’t control that. We got what we wanted, and then we have that fluke.”
Van Kooten was solid throughout on the mound for Greenwood.
He allowed five hits, walked none and fanned six. Van Kooten went to three balls on a batter just once.
“Just being able to attack the zone and hit my spots,” Van Kooten said. “I trust my coach where he wants me to throw it. I could tell warming up, coming out in the first inning if my stuff’s there. It’s going to be a good day if I can attack the zone the first inning, I can tell. Bullpen, I could just tell. My arm felt good, locating curve balls and off-speed.”
Van Kooten needed just 77 pitches to go the distance, finishing the complete game with just seven pitches in the seventh inning.
“That means you’re getting after it,” Holloway said. “Being able to attack the zone and pound the zone. He did a great job of commanding the zone. I’m proud of Coop and what he was able to do.”
Parker Edwards led off Alma’s half of the first inning with a sharp single, but his courtesy runner was picked off by Greenwood catcher Jake Smith. Van Kooten then retired the next 12 batters.
“Composure comes into play for sure,” Van Kooten said. “Obviously, you don’t want the first guy of the game to get on base, but that’s where you have to keep your composure and set an example as a senior.”
After Trent Christello broke Van Kooten’s streak by reaching on an error with an out in the fifth inning, Zac Henson followed with a single.
Other than the error, through, Greenwood’s defense was stellar throughout. The Bulldogs ended Alma’s fifth inning with a double-play, and Holt, the shortstop, turned in a couple of nice plays and finished with five assists.
“We played really good defense behind (Van Kooten),” Holloway said. “Peyton made four or five plays, that with anyone else are probably hits, at least two or three of them.”
Van Kooten certainly appreciated his defensive backing.
“Absolutely, we’ve got a stud at shortstop and a stud at third,” Van Kooten said. ‘I trust my defense for sure.”
Alma scored two runs in the sixth inning with Drake Pendergraft singling, advancing to second on a ground ball and scoring on Lane Caldwell’s double. Brayden Johnson followed with a single, but Van Kooten retired the final four hitters.
Holt and Berg had two hits each for Greenwood.