BENTON – The Benton McClendon’s were up in both games of their doubleheader against the AAA Texarkana Razorbacks in American Legion baseball action on Friday, but ended up with 10-9 and 2-1 losses to fall to 0-3 on the young season.
In Game 2, Benton was up 1-0 with two outs and runners at second and third, with an 0-2 count when McClendon’s catcher Shawn Beesley overthrew his pitcher Hunter McDade, which resulted in the tying and winning runs to come around the score, when no one was backing up. Benton Coach Brandon Wake thought he had seen everything in his years coaching baseball.
“I’ve coached for a long time,” Wake started, “seen a lot of games, I saw that one (Friday night) and I could not believe it. He just threw it over his head. (Second baseman Hunter) Wray picked it up in the outfield, just past second base. Wray picks it up and drops it, picked it up again and it was too late. It was rough.”
The first game didn’t end much better for the McClendon’s as they took a 9-6 lead into the top of the seventh inning before Trey Bishop’s leadoff walk spelled doom. Benton would get the next out on a fielder’s choice, but a hit by pitch and consecutive singles scored two, and a passed ball tied the game at 9-9. Jack James came in for relief and Texarkana would score the eventual game-winner.
Early in Game 1, Texarkana would take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Benton would get the run back in the bottom. A leadoff infield single from Tyler Lewis got the McClendon’s started before he stole second base and scored on Bishop’s double to right field.
The two teams didn’t score in the second, but the Razorbacks would lead 2-1 before Benton responded in the bottom of the third. Lewis walked and James would reach on an infield single. Clay Holicer was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out, but the McClendon’s could muster just one run when James scored on an error.
After the Razorbacks took a 2-run lead in the fourth, Benton responded again, this time with small ball. McDade reached on an infield single and was sacrifice bunted to second by Tyler Turbyfill. A bunt single by Wray put runners at second and third, and Lewis’ bunt single toward first base scored a run for a 5-4 Texarkana lead. Wray would score on an error by the second baseman to tie it at 5-apiece.
“The thing about small ball is they have to make the play,” Wake said of the opposition. “You’re forcing the defense to make the play. When you struggle a little bit at the plate, we’re not pounding it right now, we have to move the runners over.
“You force teams to make the play, and if they don’t make the first one, who knows what’s going to happen.”
Texarkana took another 2-run lead in the fifth, but the McClendon’s would take their first lead of the game when Bishop started the bottom of the fifth with a single, was sacrificed to second by Grayson Chilton and scored on McDade’s single. Two batters later, Wray would hit a 2-run double for the the 7-6 lead. Benton would add two in the bottom of the sixth before Texarkana came back to win it.
“We’re doing a little better,” Wake said after a rough start of the season. “All these kids have never played together. I think we’re coming along pretty good. We made tremendous, tremendous improvement (from a 14-3 loss to North Little Rock in the first game of the season). Our pitching is going to be fine, we just got to get it done.”
In Game 2, Patrick Ramsey pitched four scoreless innings.
After a rainout Saturday against Mountain Home, the McClendon’s will play against Little Rock today at 4 p.m. at Bernard Holland Park.