WHITE HALL — With lightening flashing through the northeastern sky at White Hall City Park Friday night, Pine Bluff Western’s bats provided a thunderous punch to dismantle Corning 17-0 in the opening round of the 12-year old Little League State Tournament.
Pine Bluff erupted for six runs in the first as the first six batters reached and scored, highlighted by a two-run home run by Blake Hence and Western added four runs in the second and fourth against three different Corning pitchers to advance to the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination event.
“I don’t know that we could have done anything differently,” Corning coach Kirk Scobey said. “I think when they got their initial eight runs they had maybe two hits. We had mental mistakes and errors and just didn’t play well. Pine Bluff is a very, very good team and we would have to play our very, very best to beat them.”
But Corning didn’t play their best, starting with Western’s leadoff hitter Braelin Hence. Hence led off the game with a routine fly ball to center that was misplayed and JaKobi Jackson followed with a towering fly ball to left-center. Both were misplayed, setting the table for Aaron Frazier to plate the duo with the game’s first base hit. It was also the first hit for Frazier, who finished 4-for-4 with two doubles, two singles and an RBI.
Frazier said Pine Bluff put last week’s 1-0 loss to White Hall in the District 3 title game in the past, a game he struck out 12 White Hall batters in the tough-luck loss.
“This means we didn’t get us down and we just kept going,” he said. “We hit the ball, fielded it and played a good game. Since the score was so high I just felt comfortable tonight. There was no pressure.”
While Pine Bluff’s bats were busy pounding out 13 hits, Western pitchers were overpowering Corning’s offense, limiting the all-star team to just one hit and facing the minimum through the mercy-rule four-inning affair. Colby Lucas collected the only hit but was thrown out trying to swipe second on an overthrow.
“These guys are all ready to play,” Pine Bluff coach Marvin Hence said. “They have been trained for it and it’s time to do it.”
Braelin Hence started the game for Pine Bluff and was lifted after one inning. Kaleb Hill faced six batters in two innings and picked up the win, allowing only the single and Drew Raines sat down the side in order in the fourth to complete the shutout.
‘The last couple of days we have been working hard,” Hence said. “The game is going to get even more intense tomorrow. These guys are going to come out with the same intensity.”
Pine Bluff will play Malvern today at 3 p.m. following White Hall’s game against Gurdon at 1 p.m. Gurdon advanced by beating Walnut Ridge 5-3 in the tournament opener.
Hill was also perfect at the plate with three singles and two RBIs and Raines singled twice and scored twice. Jackson belted a two-run home run in the fourth.
11-year old Little League State Tournament
White Hall 6, Malvern 0 (forfeit): Malvern was disqualified from the 11-year old state tournament after Little League administrator Travis Young realized the team had played in the 11-12-year old district tournament in Arkadelphia last week.
According to Little League rules, a team cannot play in multiple age divisions in the same year.
The infraction was caught during the fifth inning of the game with Malvern leading White Hall 5-2 with two on and two out.