BENTON — The Benton Panthers scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 5-5 tie Thursday and defeat Vilonia High School 10-5 in the first round of pool play in the Benton Summer High School Showcase Tournament at Panther Stadium.
To begin the sixth, junior Brooks Balisterri led off with a walk and later reached second on a wild pitch. He scored on a single by Carson Holloway, and one out later Grayson Chilton reached on a fielder’s choice.
Back-to-back singles by Brant Stout and Coulton Lee scored Chilton, and a double by Garrison Roy scored another run.
A single by Greg Pryor scored two more runs and gave Benton its five-run lead.
“That’s what saved us in that game,” coach Mark Balisterri said. “Because we did not pitch real well at all today.
“I think we gave up 14 free bases with 12 walks and two hit batters.”
Justin Vincent started the game and, after an easy first inning, gave up three runs in the second.
Vilonia’s Hunter Henderson led off with a walk and Nathan Taylor singled. Bryan Ayers singled to score a run, but a bad throw to first allowed Taylor and Ayers to advance to second and third.
After a strikeout, Cody Earnheart hit a two-run single. Vincent struck out Trever Martin before issuing back-to-back walks to Drew Estes and Steven Barber.
Roy was then brought in to face Hunter Floyd, who flew out to right field on the first pitch to end the inning but not before Vilonia had a 4-1 lead.
“Garrison came in a tough situation there in the first inning and he held them to basically one run the rest of the game,” Balisterri said.
“He struggled through the whole thing, but he seemed to get out of all the jams he got in.”
Vincent finished the game, allowing four runs (all earned) on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Roy pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run (earned) on four hits with seven walks and five strikeouts.
“It is hard for me to complain about our pitching because it has been so dominating,” Balisterri said. “Today, though, we struggled to throw strikes.”
After the Panthers took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, Vilonia tied the game in the top of the fifth thanks to three walks and an infield single given up by Roy.
“We made a couple of real good defensive plays that kept us in the game,” Balisterri said.
He also said maybe one of the reasons why the Panthers struggled with pitching today was overconfidence after being so dominating in games before.
“We might have lost our focus a little bit,” Balisterri said.
In the fourth, Benton led off with a walk by Lee and a single by Roy. An error on the pitcher on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Pryor scored two runs and gave Benton a 5-4 lead.
“Part of what we are trying to do this summer is to work through some adversity and see if we can overcome it,” Balisterri said. “We’ve got some of the best pitchers that have ever been at Benton.
“We just got to be able to show some consistency on the mound.”