Photographs by Andy Shupe
Greenland junior Austin Anderson has helped the Pirates earn their first trip to the Class 3A state baseball championship game since 2002. The Pirates will take on Harding Academy at 12:30 p.m. today in Baum Stadium.
Friday, May 19, 2017
GREENLAND -- Will McGinnis was just a kid the first time he walked on the field at Baum Stadium.
He followed his dad, longtime Springdale High baseball coach David McGinnis, everywhere back then as the Bulldogs went on a late-season tear and won the 1998 state championship.
Arkansas State Championships
At Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
Cabot vs. Har-Ber, 10 a.m.
Harding Academy vs. Greenland, 12:30 p.m.
Nashville vs. Shiloh Christian, 3 p.m.
Woodlawn vs. Taylor, 5:30 p.m.
Sheridan vs. Jonesboro, 10 a.m.
Magnolia vs. Vilonia, 12:30 p.m.
Spring Hill vs. St. Joseph, 3 p.m.
Will chased a lot of foul balls and picked up a lot of baseball bats as the team bat boy. Just to hang out with the high school players was a big deal back then, but nothing could compare to celebrating that championship with his dad and the Bulldogs that warm spring day.
Will McGinnis will have the chance to celebrate in Baum Stadium again today, this time as the second-year coach at Greenland. His Pirates, winners of 11 consecutive games, will take on Harding Academy at 12:30 p.m. in the Class 3A state championship game.
"Anytime you make it to Baum, it's special for your kids," he said. "These kids have stuck it out all year long. We've put them through the grinder and we've been hard on them. It's all worth it when they get to walk out on Baum Stadium."
Greenland (27-8) has never won a state baseball title. The program's only appearance in a title game came back in 2002. The Pirates are hoping to change that, and the way they have played over the last three weeks has them in position to make history today.
Junior Austin Anderson, who leads the team with an 8-2 record and 2.66 ERA, will take the hill today. And he'll have an offense that has been red-hot to provide run support. The Pirates scored 39 runs in three state tournament games last weekend.
"We started playing good baseball right before the start of the district tournament," Anderson said. "So we were feeling pretty good about ourselves then. We're making good contact and making things happen."
Michael McAdoo, who allowed just three hits in a 10-3 quarterfinals win over Manila, is a utility player for the Pirates. McAdoo alternates at catcher with Chander Alaniz, and also plays third base and outfield in addition to pitching.
The Pirates, because of rains that forced games at the state tournament in Harrison to be postponed, played two games last Saturday to punch their ticket to the championship game. McAdoo said Greenland handled the double-duty without an issue.
"We've played doubleheaders against teams like Westville, Oklahoma, so it was just like another doubleheader," McAdoo said.
Except in this case, the stakes were a lot higher.
One of the Pirates' biggest fund-raisers for the program is picking up trash at Baum Stadium after games. Last season the team watched the state championship games from the stands and hauled out garbage in between. This season they are hoping to take home something much more valuable.
"I remember all of us were sitting there and we were watching the games and we just wanted to play there," Alaniz said. "We all believed we could. I've always wanted to play a state championship at Baum Stadium."
McGinnis played at Baum as a senior at Springdale in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game in 2006. But this time is different.
"When you're the head guy, it's just something you really can't describe," McGinnis said. "I'm excited for it. I know our kids are excited for it. We're ready for Friday to get here."
Sports on 05/19/2017
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