Miners win in opening round of FCA

BAUXITE – After splitting a doubleheader with Poyen over the weekend, the Bauxite Miners picked up a 7-5 opening-round win in the FCA Tournament over the St. Joseph’s Bulldogs of Conway on Wednesday in Bauxite.

“We had a good start,” Bauxite Coach Mike Mattox began, “we didn’t finish. That’s kind of how we’ve played the last few games. We’ve got to learn to finish games off. That’s kind of how we played last year.”

The Miners (3-3) led 6-1 after the fourth inning, but the Bulldogs capitalized on a Bauxite error to score two unearned runs. Senior Dylan Oliver relieved for Ryan Weng in the top of the fifth inning and struck out the first batter he faced on an outside curve ball for the first out. The Bulldogs singled and Oliver struck out another batter before third baseman Blake Yates made a two-base error allowing a run and St.

Joe’s followed with an RBI double to score another to get within 6-3. Junior Chris Revas relieved Oliver after a walk and got the Bulldogs to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Miners responded with a run in the bottom of the inning when junior Robbie Weng walked, was sacrificed to second base by Oliver, and two batters later, left-handed hitting junior Chad Jolly hit an RBI double in the right-centerfield gap to make it 7-3.

The Bulldogs scored two runs in the top of the seventh when Revas hit the first batter of the inning and gave up a single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Revas induced a comebacker for the first out and struck the next man out on a curveball before St. Joe’s hit a single to right field to score two. Revas fielded a hard-hit comebacker and threw to first to end the game.

“I’d like to see our pitching be a little bit stronger and definitely cut down on our errors that we made in the game,” Mattox said. “We’re just going to try and clean it up a little bit.”

After Miners starting pitcher senior Ryan Weng struck out the leadoff man looking in the first inning, the Bulldogs struck first when Weng hit the second batter and errors by Yates and senior Hunter Wray led to an unearned run to put St. Joe up 1-0.

The Miners struck back in the bottom of the inning when senior leadoff man Tim Dunlap led off with a single to right field, stole second base and reached third base on a ground out to second. Dunlap scored on a passed ball to tie the game. With two outs, Yates drew a walk and scored from first on Oliver’s double to left field to put Bauxite ahead 2-1.

Weng labored the next three innings with two walks and a hit batter while throwing 68 pitches in four innings, but picked up the win giving up an unearned run and one hit while striking out three.

“That really wasn’t Ryan’s best outing,” Mattox said. “He’s been out three times this year and all three of them have been great. He struggled a little bit today, but he’s still finding a way to compete and throw strikes.”

After being set down in order in the bottom of the second, the Miners struck with three runs in the third when Wray walked and junior catcher Tyler Willis singled. Yates hit a grounder to second base for a potential double play, but the Bulldogs shortstop dropped the pitch allowing Wray to score to make it 3-1 Bauxite. Oliver sacrificed bunted runners to second and third before Ryan Weng helped his own cause with a triple to right field scoring two for a 5-1 lead.

“That was huge,” Mattox said. “That triple kind of blew it open and that was a big turning point in the game.”

Dunlap led the Miners with a 2 for 4 day, scoring two runs and stealing two bases. Willis went 1 for 3 with a run, Oliver went 1 for 1 with a run and two sac bunts, and Weng went 1 for 2 with two RBIs.

Due to rain, the remainder of the FCA Tournament has been cancelled. With several inches of rain expected today and more rain expected Saturday, Bauxite has cancelled all games.