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Brothers caps Har-Ber's rally

Blaze Brothers drove in a run during the second inning of Saturday's Class 7A state tournament semifinal game when he was hit by a pitch.

His second RBI of the afternoon was a little more dramatic.

Springdale Har-Ber rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to down Van Buren 6-5 at Vince DeSalvo Stadium in North Little Rock. The Wildcats' victory sends them to the championship game against Conway on either Friday or Saturday at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

Brothers, a senior second baseman, lined a one-ball, two-strike pitch into right-center field to cap the Wildcats' rally.

An inning earlier, Brothers came to the plate with two out and two runners on base. He popped up on the infield.

"I kept dropping my back shoulder, but on that last [at-bat] I stayed through with the ball," Brothers said. "I swung through the [strike] zone as long as I could, and I got a base hit."

After hitting a single in his first at-bat in Friday's quarterfinals against Bryant, Brothers made six consecutive hitless trips to the plate before his seventh-inning heroics Saturday.

"It was good to see Blaze finally get a hit," Har-Ber Coach Ron Bradley said.

Har-Ber (30-4) overcame a valiant pitching effort from Van Buren senior Evan Jones, who had recovered from a poor second inning to throw four shutout innings from the third through the sixth.

"Evan did a good job of mixing it up," said Van Buren Coach David Loyd, whose team finished 22-8. "He got out in front of them a little bit. They were hitting a lot of fly balls and pop ups."

Blake Adams, however, hit a fly ball in the seventh inning that was uncatchable. The junior right fielder sent the final pitch from Jones into the trees that sit beyond the left-field fence for a two-run home run that cut Van Buren's lead to 5-4.

"That changed the momentum for us," Brothers said. "It's crazy that one hit can do all of that."

Jones had reached his limit of 110 pitches with his final offering to Adams.

"That was big," Loyd said. "We were trying to make [Adams] swing because that was the last batter [Jones] was going to face. We were hoping he would hit it at us or pop it up. But he got a hold of it and that gave them a lot of momentum, and we couldn't rein it back in."

Van Buren brought in freshman Connor Johnson in an attempt to close out the game, but a single by Jake Williams, a hit batter and two walks -- including a game-tying walk by J.D. Scott -- set up Brothers' game-winning hit.

"It's hard to go out that way," Loyd said. "I'm proud of our kids of getting us here ... but we'll have to deal with it. We'll live with this one for a while."

Har-Ber scored two runs off Jones in the second inning but could have scored more. Lucas McCain doubled to lead off the inning and Kirby Jenkins picked up the RBI with a single. After another single and a hit by pitch, Brothers collected his first RBI when he was hit by a pitch.

A strikeout and a pop out cut the Wildcats' inning short.

"I'm looking at a 5-0 lead at that point," Bradley said. "And guess what happens the next inning? They get three [runs] and the two-out hit. We didn't capitalize and they did. We were just able to keep it close and win it in the seventh."

Van Buren tied the game at 2-2 when Chase Moore's ground ball turned into a two-base error. Jones followed with a single to make it 3-2.

The Pointers added two more runs in the third on run-scoring singles by Seth Humphrey and Moore.

Adams, Trevor Brown and Mac McCroskey each had two hits for Har-Ber, which compiled 11 hits. Senior reliever Treshon Paschal worked the final inning to pick up the victory.

Senior Ethan Rauser was 3 for 3 for Van Buren, which finished with 8 hits.

Sports on 05/13/2018

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