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Benton advances to tourney finals

March 25, 2011

Benton senior Levon Steward pulls up a third base after hitting a triple in Thursday’s game against Sylvan Hills. The Panthers defeated Fayetteville 8-7 Friday night to advance to today’s championship game. SAM PIERCE/Courier

BENTON — Benton broke a 5-5 tie with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to eventually defeat Fayetteville 8-7 in the 2011 Central Arkansas Invitational Friday night.

“We got down early, and they hit the ball,” coach Mark Balisterri said. “They had seven hits in two innings and they scored five runs.

“I told the guys, ‘Look, if we are going to give up runs, early is when you want to give them up. This way you have a chance of fighting back.’”
“Just peck away and we don’t have to get it all back in one inning.”

Carson Holloway led off the fifth inning with a double to left field and after a strikeout and a pop up would scored on a single by Brooks Balisterri. Ashton Roberts followed with a singe and Balisterri was able to score after Fayetteville’s right fielder let the ball roll under his glove.

Roberts would later score on a balk to give Benton a 8-5 lead. Fayetteville would issue walks to Joseph Henry, Stuart Levy and Taylor Schmidt but Benton would leave the bases load to end the inning.

Fayetteville would rally in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs on a two-run home run that trimmed the deficit. However, Benton would escape the inning and in the top of the seventh Holloway would pick the save on two ground ball outs and a fly out to right field.

Benton left 11 runners on base in Friday’s game against Fayetteville.

“We had a chance to put them away,” Balisterri said. “We just had some guys step up and get some big hits for us. Its what we really needed.”

The Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the third inning thanks in part to a RBI single by Matthew Krikorian.

Henry led off the inning with a single and Levy followed with a walk. Krikorian’s single would score Henry and a passed ball would score Boone Cox, who ran for Levy. Krikorian later scored in the inning to tie the game at 5.

“Matthew has come through big for us all day,” Balisterri said of the third baseman. “He had a couple of big hits today. We got some big hits when we needed them.”

Krikorian was 2 for 4 with a double, two runs scored and a RBI in the game against Fayetteville.

Fayetteville scored four runs in the top of the second thanks in part to two RBI singles to take a 5-0 lead.

“After the first two innings, Ashton came in and he shut them down,” Balisterri said.

Roberts would pick up the win after pitching 4 2/3 innings and Holloway earn the save.

“Carson came in and does what he always does,” Balisterri said. “He’s a competitor. He’s struggling at the plate right now. He just likes it, that stuff doesn’t bother him.”

Balisterri was 1 for 4 with a single, a RBI, a walk and a run scored. Roberts was 2 for 4 with a run scored while Henry was 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.

Levy did not have an official at bat but he did walk four times and Cox, who ran for Levy each time scored three times. Taylor Schmidt had a walk and Holloway had two walks and a double, and a run scored.

Levon Steward was 0 for 3 with a walk.

The Benton Panthers will play today in the championship game at 12:30 at Benton High School.

BENTON 5 SHILOH 3

In Benton’s first game of the day, the Panthers beat Shiloh Christian 5-3.

Junior Garrison Roy started for the Panthers, pitching four and one-third innings and allowing one run off a fielder’s choice. Roy struck out six batters while recording four walks, two hits and two hit batters. Three of his strikeouts came in the fourth inning when he retired the side swinging.

Senior Jacob Eakens relieved Roy on the mound in the fifth inning. He gave up two hits and two runs, which came in the seventh inning off a home run. Eakens walked one batter and hit one.

Offensively, the Panthers scored one run in the second inning off a single by sophomore Taylor Schmidt. After giving up one run in the third, the Panthers scored again in the fourth, and then twice in the fifth, giving Benton a 5-1 lead.

Benton scored one more run in the sixth inning off a single by junior Brooks Balisterri, which brought in Schmidt to give the Panthers a 5-1 lead going into the last inning.

In the top of the seventh inning, Shiloh scored two run off a home run. Still, Benton was ahead 5-3 at the third out, and the Panthers last at bat was not needed.
— Charlie Gocio contributed to this story.

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