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Goodheart, Magnolia wind up at familiar destination

Matt Goodheart was determined to lead the Magnolia Panthers back to a championship game.

The senior right-hander struck out eight in a complete game as the Panthers defeated Greenbrier 5-4 on Monday in a Class 5A state baseball tournament semifinal game at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood.

Magnolia (27-1), the defending Class 5A state champions, will play Vilonia in the title game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

Goodheart was Magnolia's winning pitcher in last season's Class 5A state championship victory over Sylvan Hills as a junior, and he is excited to have an opportunity to repeat the feat as a senior.

"There would be no better way to end it," Goodheart said.

Goodheart, who also had two hits at the plate and scored a run, allowed 4 runs, 5 hits and 3 walks, but he did not allow a hit after the fourth inning.

"He's been our guy for two years now, at the plate and on the mound," Magnolia Coach Bobby Beeson said. "It seems like our team has a different type of energy when he's out there. We know what he's going to give us. He's going to throw strikes. He's going to give us a chance to win games.

"He had the bulldog mentality out there today."

Greenbrier Coach Ty Glover played at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and was a neighbor of former SAU baseball coach Steve Goodheart. He's known Steve's son for 12 years, and Monday's performance was not a surprise to him.

"He's tough," Glover said. "I knew he was going to get better as the game went on. You give him a lead late, it's going to be tough on anybody, I don't care who it is."

Parker Ribble also had two hits for Magnolia, which outhit Greenbrier 8-5.

Greenbrier (31-5) tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fourth inning on Connor Flagg's two-out RBI double, but that was it for the Panthers.

Magnolia grabbed a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ribble walked, Dayton Dickson singled and both runners advanced a base on a Greenbrier fielding error with Payton Campbell at the plate. Kevin Zhao walked to load the bases, then Ribble came home on a wild pitch by Greenbrier reliever Spencer Sutterfield.

Goodheart took care of Greenbrier from there.

He struck out the side in the top of the seventh inning. After striking out Steven Stewart, he was mobbed by his teammates on the pitcher's mound.

"It was amazing," Goodheart of his three strikeouts in the seventh. "There's no feeling like it."

Paxton Wallace hit a two-run home run in the first inning for Greenbrier. Cayden Wallace also had a run-scoring single for the Panthers.

VILONIA 7, LR CHRISTIAN 6 (8)

Luke Gordon hit a game-winning single to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead Vilonia (24-11) past Little Rock Christian (20-11).

The Eagles won despite committing five errors. There were a combined 10 errors in the game.

Chris Bass reached with a one-out walk and Nick Howard singled to left field to put runners on first and second base in the eighth before Gordon lined the game-winning single off Warriors reliever John Woodard.

Vilonia, which trailed 5-1 after two innings, tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the sixth inning as Jordan Chandler scored on a fielding error and Howard recorded an RBI double.

Chandler, Gordon and Howard led the Eagles with three hits apiece.

G Allen had a two-run double for the Warriors. MJ Loggains added an RBI single.

Sports on 05/16/2017

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