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Van Kooten, Greenwood get by plucky Marion

BENTON -- Cooper Van Kooten and his Greenwood teammates banged out 14 hits against Marion Saturday morning, but the Bulldogs' senior pitcher was never allowed to relax.

Van Kooten struck out 12 and allowed only three singles as the Bulldogs topped Marion 4-3 in eight innings at Panther Field in the quarterfinals of the 6A state tournament.

Ronnie Berg's sacrifice fly brought in Cody Smith with the winning run in the eighth inning to place the Bulldogs (26-6) in Monday's semifinals against Sheridan (31-5).

"If you're rattled, the rest of the team is going to be rattled," Van Kooten said. "You have to stay composed."

Van Kooten, who improved to 10-1, retired Marion in order five times. He walked two batters, hit another and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning.

"He's done a great job all year long," Greenwood Coach Trey Holloway said. "Only two balls left the infield on their hits. We had one bad inning and that's the way baseball is. But yes, Coop did a phenomenal job."

Marion (14-16) scored all of its runs in the sixth inning, using three hits and two errors to take a 3-2 lead.

Kenton Jones broke up Van Kooten's no-hitter with a one-out single over the outstretched glove of second baseman Cameron Pugh. Junior Tony Rudd followed with a single and the Patriots loaded the bases when sophomore Hayden Hodge reached on an error.

Peyton Walker's slowly hit ball down the third-base line brought home Marion's first run. The Patriots added two more runs when Mathew Baker's fielder's choice turned into the second error of the inning.

"I never thought we wouldn't win," Van Kooten said. "We've had walk-off hits every year in the state tournament for the last four years. I believe in our guys more than anything. When it gets tight like it was today, I always think we're going to win."

Greenwood had a hit in every inning but left nine runners stranded. The Bulldogs also had two runners thrown out at the plate and lost another runner when he overran second base.

"How you handle adversity is who you are," Holloway said. "When we're down, we're not stressed and we're not pressed. You don't see me going crazy and you don't see our players doing that. That's our culture. That's what we have to do."

Van Kooten, who singled in a run in the fifth, brought home the tying run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Marion got out of the seventh inning when Rudd, the Patriots' shortstop, made a diving stop on a ground ball hit by Connor Noland to start a double play.

Van Kooten set down Marion in order in the eighth, and Greenwood's game-ending rally started with a single by Smith and intentional walk to Dylan Montgomery and a single by Pugh. Berg, a junior who was batting ninth in the lineup, followed with a deep fly ball to center.

Freshman Colton Sagely went 3 for 4 with three singles and a RBI. Smith also went 3 for 3 with a double.

Marion freshman Braeden Woolford surrendered 12 hits for the game, but gave up no runs through the first four innings. He struck out two and walked none. Reliever Alex O'Brien, who came in with one out in the bottom of the seventh, took the loss.

SHERIDAN 9,

MOUNTAIN HOME 3

Junior Tyler Cleveland went 2 for 3 with a single, a double and 2 RBI as the Yellowjackets routed the error-prone Bombers (11-18).

Mountain Home made six errors in the first four innings allowing Sheridan to build its six-run advantage.

Junior Chance Wallingsford and senior David Rainwater had two hits for Sheridan.

Wallingsford gave up 5 hits, walked 3, hit 3 and struck out 5 in 4 2/3 innings. Sophomore Haydn Finley allowed two hits in the final 2 1/3 innings, but did not give up a run.

Mountain Home picked up RBI on a bases-loaded walk to sophomore Luke Kruse, a groundout from freshman Will Gross and a sacrifice fly by sophomore Austin Mize.

JONESBORO 11, PINE BLUFF 3

Sophomore pitcher Zane Ryne Neves struck out 12 and Logan Orr and Kayden Boyle each slugged three-run home runs as the defending state champion Hurricane (28-3) blew out the Zebras (12-13).

All three runs against Neves were unearned. Pine Bluff scored two runs in the first inning on two hit batters and an error. The Zebras added their final run in the fifth thanks to a dropped fly ball to deep right field.

Neves gave up only hit -- a one-out liner to left by Brandon Little in the third inning. He hit the first two batters of the game and walked three before being removed with two outs in the seventh inning. Senior Thomas Fletcher was on the mound for the final out.

Senior Sam Edwards collected three hits and drove in two. Senior Cameron Hockle had two hits and drove in two. Orr, a sophomore, broke a 2-2 tie with his home run to right in the third inning. Boyle's home run came during the Hurricane's six-run sixth inning.

Little took the loss. The Pine Bluff pitcher allowed 9 hits, walked 6 and struck out 4.

BENTON 7, TEXARKANA 1

Senior Ross Carver struck out 12 and drove in two runs with a double in the first inning as the Panthers (18-14) knocked off Razorbacks (11-17) in the final quarterfinal game.

Carver walked only one and limited Texarkana to two hits — a single by junior Austin Nix and a double from Matthew Mobley. Texarkana’s lone run came in the fifth inning when Tristen Koller scored on a wild pitch.

Benton finished with eight hits. Junior Drew Chilton drove in a run and junior Preston Fleeman drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Sports on 05/14/2017

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