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Greenwood gets big hand from Noland

CLASS 6A BASEBALL

GREENWOOD 15, JONESBORO (5)

GREENWOOD -- The Greenwood Bulldogs will take a 23-game winning streak into the Class 6A state tournament championship game after a dominating performance Saturday at Bulldog Field.

Greenwood's offense got things rolling early, and the Bulldogs got a strong pitching performance from Connor Noland for a 15-0 victory over Jonesboro in a semifinal game that lasted just five innings.

"We had a good feeling going into the day with Connor on the mound," Greenwood Coach Trey Holloway said. "We knew we needed to score just a couple runs. I didn't think we would actually score 15. But we had a huge inning."

The Bulldogs were able able to jump out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning.

Greenwood (31-3) put the game out of reach in the third, using nine hits to score 13 runs.

Noland gave the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead with a three-run home run. Noland added a two-run double later in the inning to extend the lead to 12-0. Jake Smith capped the scoring with a two-run single.

"They got great kids that are hard workers," Jonesboro Coach Mark Dobson said. "They are a really solid team. They are really impressive all the way around. They did a great job. The bottom line is they are pretty good."

Noland picked up the victory, pitching 5 innings while allowing 1 hit and 1 walk and striking out 12.

"He is a great player, as a pitcher or hitting," Holloway said. "It doesn't matter. When the game is on the line, we want him at the plate and on the mound. He is a warrior at heart out there."

Jonesboro (22-9) was able to get a runner on third base after opening the game with a leadoff hit from Zane Ryne Neves. He advanced to third on two wild pitches, but Noland struck out the side to end the threat.

Noland didn't allow another base runner until the fifth inning when he walked Jacob Wheatherley.

"Early on, he threw those 25 pitches in the first and really battled," Holloway said. "He settled in after that. It's hard to come out with the nerves. But I thought he did a really good job."

Playing his final home game at Greenwood was something that was on Noland's mind early.

"I was very emotional today," Noland said. "Usually I'm pretty calm. But after the first inning, I was showing my emotions trying to put on a show for these guys and the awesome crowd."

Greenwood will look to win its first state championship since 2006 when it faces Benton at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

"We came out here to prove a point," Noland said. "I think we showed that today. We came out here, competed and put up some numbers."

Jonesboro's season ended in the semifinals after beating Jacksonville 10-0 the day before.

"We have gone through a lot of stuff this year," Dobson said. "I'm really proud to be one of the last four teams to walk off the field. I'll remember this season for a long time."

BENTON 7, SHERIDAN 4

Defending state champion Sheridan (28-6) got the bats going early, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning and a 4-2 advantage after the third.

It was all Benton (22-11) from there as the Panthers pulled away and advanced to the Class 6A championship game by scoring four runs in the final two innings.

After the Yellowjackets took their two-run lead after the third, Benton scored a run in the fourth then used a two-hit, two-run sixth inning to take a 5-4 lead.

The Panthers added two additional runs in the seventh inning for the final margin.

Wes Guerra, Logan Black and Drew Chilton scored two runs apiece for the Panthers.

Sports on 05/13/2018

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