FORT SMITH — It was long overdue.
From the high school seniors who missed the majority of their season to Fort Smith showing off one of its two newest baseball fields.
Baseball returned to the Arkansas River Valley as the Fort Smith American Legion teams split with the Russellville Pirates on Monday at Forsgren Field. It was the first game on the field which was refurbished for the Southside Mavericks’ baseball team. However, due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, the opportunity was missed.
Russellville took the opener of the doubleheader 4-1 against the Forsgren Sportsman, while the AAA American Legion team, the Fort Smith Sportsman won the nightcap by the same margin, 3-0.
Both Fort Smith teams had another game on Tuesday with a Tournament starting on Friday at Hunt’s Park, home of the Northside Grizzlies. It will be the first use of the field which was also recently renovated.
Van Buren’s Dakota Peters reached first on a fielder’s choice and an error.
The FS Sportsman led off with a 1-0 lead in the first and was up 2-0 after Breck Burris (Southside) scored on an error when Russellville had a late throw to first which went high over the first baseman’s head in the second inning. At the bottom of the fifth, Gabe Fennell (Booneville) capped the scoring as he also reached home on an error. The Pirates finished with four errors.
Braiden Partain (Southside) earned the win for three innings of work for the Sportsman. He faced nine batters with five strikeouts and no hits. Partain had four strikeouts and both Brayden Ross and Jett Carver had two innings each and two strikeouts, and one hit each.
Russellville 3, Forsgren 0
FORT SMITH — Pirate starter Cole Hathcote picked up his first win of the summer for his six innings of work in the season opener for both teams.
Hathcote finished with five strikeouts as he faced 26 batters and scattered eight hits with no walks.
Payton Roach preserved the win for Russellville as he closed out the game in the seventh and retired the side.
Russellville scored one run in three innings to take the win.
Cole Dawson provided the highlight on offense with his home run shot over the left field fence to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Ty Toland scored for Russellville when he reached home on Lance Milsap’s double in the second inning.
Justice Newman reached first on a fielder’s choice which allowed Ty Hibbs to score in the fourth.
Caleb Crabtree led Forsgren’s offense with two hits. Talon Pate (Northside), Ty Goff, Eduardo Sanchez, Logan Taylor (Alma), Bricen Nesbit, Isaac Carroll, and Conner Austin had one hit each for the Sportsman.
Forsgren threatened to score in the fifth and the sixth. The Sportsman put two runners on base with one out, but Russellville picked up the double play to end Forsgren’s chances.