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Quarterfinal a walk in park for Magnolia

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Photographs by Mitchell PE Masilun

Magnolia’s Brooks Lynch fouls a ball off during the fourth inning Saturday as the defending Class 5A champion Panthers beat Farmington 14-3 in 5 innings at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood.

Magnolia walked its way to the Class 5A state baseball semifinals.

Magnolia’s Jay French delivers a pitch during the Panthers’ 14-3 victory over Farmington in the Class 5A baseball quarterÿnals Saturday in Sherwood.

The defending Class 5A state champions took advantage of eight Farmington walks in a 14-3 victory in five innings Saturday at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood.

The Panthers (26-1) will face Greenbrier at noon Monday. Farmington's season ended at 21-11.

Magnolia Coach Bobby Beeson said he wanted his team to be patient against the Cardinals, and the plan worked.

"We preached to our boys all year, 'Make them throw strikes,'" Beeson said. "It's a tough team we're playing. We knew we had to be mentally ready, because I knew they wouldn't give us much.

"We made the pitchers work. We got ahead in our counts."

Magnolia took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning against Farmington starting pitcher Tyler Gregg. Jay French singled to lead off and was sacrificed to second by Kurt Pletcher. Matt Goodheart walked, then Parker Ribble hit a two-run double to score Goodheart and French.

A seven-run second inning, which included five walks, helped Magnolia pull away.

Farmington took Gregg, a right-hander, out after one inning because of tightness in his right arm and put in Drake Vinyard, who walked Kevin Zhao to lead off the second.

Connor Harrington singled and Brooks Lynch walked to load the bases for French. French and Pletcher each earned RBI after being walked with the bases loaded, making it 4-0 Magnolia.

Goodheart hit a two-run double to left field for a 6-0 lead and Pletcher came home on the play thanks to a throwing error by Cardinals shortstop Logan Bobak, extending Magnolia's advantage to 7-0.

Ribble was walked by Farmington reliever Ben Silvis to put runners on first and second with no outs. Dayton Dickson's RBI single made it 8-0 and Payton Campbell's double stretched the lead to 9-0.

Farmington scored in the top of the third inning on Cade Fenton's three-run home run, but Magnolia responded in the bottom of the inning with five runs for a 14-3 lead.

The walks were too much for Farmington to overcome, Coach Jay Harper said.

"Coach Beeson and I talked after the game. We both thought the strike zone was a little tight for both teams," Harper said. "But we didn't make enough pitches."

Campbell was 2 for 3 with a two-run home run to lead the Panthers, who had 10 hits Saturday.

French walked nine batters for Magnolia, but allowed 3 runs on 3 hits in 5 innings.

Magnolia returned to south Arkansas Saturday night so the players could celebrate Mother's Day at home. Beeson said he did not want to take any chances on upsetting his players' families.

"I don't want to get in the bad grace of mamas," Beeson said. "We'll let them spend the majority of the day with their mamas, then head back up here tomorrow night and get ready for the game."

CLASS 2A

Spring Hill rallies

LEPANTO — Spring Hill freshman Wesley Featherston’s two-run double to center field in the bottom of the seventh lifted the Bears to a 10-9 come-from-behind victory Saturday over Palestine Wheatley in a Class 2A semifinal.

Spring Hill heads to Fayetteville next weekend to play St. Joseph in the Class AA overall state championship game.

The Bears took an early lead, lost it before regaining it in their last at-bat.

Spring Hill used a single to right field and a one-out walk to put runners on first and seccond. Sophomore Lewis Chambliss dribbled a grounder toward third base on a hit-and-run play.

The ball hugged the grass, allowing Daden Reed to score to make it a 9-8 game. Featherston then drove in Conner Bell and Chambliss with the winning runs. Palestine-Wheatley (25-6) overcame a 7-3 deficit to take a 9-7 lead with six runs in the top of the seventh.

Garritt Wilson’s bases-clearing triple put Palestine Wheatley up 8-7, and Lane Teal’s RBI groundout scored Wilson to make it 9-7 going into the bottom of the seventh.

The top of the inning started with backto-back home runs by Palestine Wheatley seniors Will Nash and Collin Hill to make it a 7-5 game.

Taking advantage of a Spring Hill pitching change, the P-W’s Garritt Wilson came to the plate with the bases loaded and only one out. Wilson cleared the bases with a drive to the center field fence ending up at third base and putting the Patriots in front 8-7.

Lane Teal’s RBI groundout scored Wilson for a 9-7 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.

Spring Hill led 5-0 after three innings, and it was 6-2 after four innings.

Each team scored a run in the sixth inning, making it a 7-3 game heading into the seventh.

— Fred Conley, Special to the Democrat-Gazette

Sports on 05/14/2017

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