BENTON – Despite walking 10 Little Rock Vipers on Wednesday night, the Benton McClendon’s came away with a 9-2 victory at Bernard Holland Park in American Legion action. The game was originally supposed to be played at Gary Hogan Field (UALR) in Little Rock, but the site changed and the start time moved from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
It looked to be a game of missed opportunities as both teams would leave the bases loaded in the first inning, but Benton came away with a run. Leadoff man Clay Holicer singled to center to start the bottom of the inning, went to second on Wesley Ramsey’s infield single and Brandon Wilcox loaded the bases with an infield single of his own.
Vipers’ pitcher Alex Stillwell would strike the next two men out before Andrew Swaim walked on five pitches for the RBI and McClendon’s 1-0 lead. Stillwell struck out the side to leave the bases loaded.
Both teams were even in the left on base category after one, but Benton would leave just two men on base the rest of the way. Little Rock, with the help of 10 walks, left 13 on base. The McClendon’s pitchers stayed in trouble the whole game as the Vipers didn’t reach second base in just one inning.
“We just snuck out of it,” McClendon’s Coach Brandon Wake said of getting out of trouble. “They didn’t get that timely hit they needed. And we come up bases loaded with nobody out (in first inning), strike out three times.”
The McClendon’s added three runs in the bottom of the second to go up 4-0 as Wilcox hit a 2-run single and Zac Caplinger followed with an RBI double.
Zack Smiley started for Benton on the mound and pitched two innings without giving up a run for the win. Smiley did walk five and gave up one hit, but left the bases loaded in the first and second innings. Lefty Cole Southerland followed with two innings of scoreless ball giving up a hit and two walks, and struck out two. Patrick Ramsey gave up two runs (one earned) in his two innings and struck out two, and Holicer pitched the final inning with out giving up a run, but made it interesting. Holicer loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter before striking out the final two Vipers to end the game.
Caplinger went 3 for 4 with a double and RBI, Wilcox went 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBI and Holicer (three runs), Jack James and Tyler Lewis each went 1 for 3. Tyler Hamilton had a 2-run single in Benton’s 4-run fourth inning.
The McClendon’s will travel to Bryant today and face the Bryant Black Sox at 8 p.m. at Hornets Field.