Miners run out of steam

MALVERN – Coming off of a 10-7 11-inning win against the Maumelle Hornets in the first round of the 7-4A District Tournament on Wednesday in Malvern, the No. 7 seed Bauxite Miners had nothing left for the No. 3 seed De Queen Leopards on Friday, losing 11-1 in the quarterfinals. The Leopards had a bye in the first round, so they were rested and fresh, something Bauxite Coach Michael Mattox knew was going to be a challenge.

“We were just wore out, lost our focus and they took advantage of it,” Mattox said. “[De Queen] hit the ball well. They did a good job.”

Senior Ryan Weng started for the Miners (10-13, 3-6 7-4A including District) and got into some early trouble walking the leadoff man, giving up a single and another walk to load the bases with no outs. It looked like Weng would get out of the jam after striking out Cole McRae and inducing Josh Purtell to pop out to second base, but a drive by Devon Hagood to center field went in and out of a running junior Chris Revas’ glove for a three-run double and an early three-run deficit.

“We came out there early with the three-run hit that hit out of our glove on us,” Mattox said. “It was a tough play there. Not the difference in the ballgame, but momentum early.”

The Miners manufactured a run in the top of the third inning when last-place hitter Weng reached with one out on a swinging bunt. Freshman Estevan Padilla was the courtesy runner and went to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Revas, who reached on an error when the pitcher Jake Arndt couldn’t throw him out. Senior Hunter Wray was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out and junior catcher Tyler Willis hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Padilla and get the Miners within 3-1.

That would be all the scoring for the Miners as Arndt got the win giving up three hits and a hit batter while striking out seven in five innings.

Weng held the Leopards scoreless in the second and third inning, but hit Javier Gonzalez with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Weng struck out Stephen Miller for the second out, but consecutive errors by Wray at shortstop led to four unearned runs in the inning and a 7-1 De Queen lead.

“That really put the nail in the coffin for us,” Mattox said. “We really lost our focus after that and really couldn’t get it going again. We struggled at the plate. We have a lot to work on there for next season.”

Sean Beesly relieved Weng in the fourth inning and got out of the jam, struck out two in the fifth, but hit a batter and walked a man with one out in the sixth, which led to Hagood hitting a two-run homer over the left-field fence for the 10-run lead. The game was over after that as the sportsmanship rule was put into play.

Weng gave up seven runs (three earned) for the loss on five hits and two walks in three and two-third innings. He struck out three. Beesly gave up all four of his runs in the the sixth, pitching an inning and two thirds giving up three hits and a walk, while striking out two.

The Miners managed only 3 hits in 21 at bats with Beesley going 1 for 2, Oliver 1 for 2 with a double, and Weng 1 for 1 with his swinging bunt.
For the Leopards, Arndt went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs and Hagood went 2 for 4 with five RBIs.

Though the Miners’ season is over, Mattox said he was appreciative of the players who stayed through a hectic year.

“A lot of ups and downs,” Mattox said. “I can’t complain. These kids, the ones that stuck around and didn’t quit, I’ve got all the respect in the world for them. They fought through a lot of difficult situations and [I’m] still very proud of them for not quitting and giving up.”