ARKADELPHIA – Malvern stamped its ticket to Waco, Texas, with an emphatic 16-2 win in four innings over White Hall on Thursday in the Little League 11- and 12-year-old state championship, ending White Hall’s two-year title reign.
Malvern set the tone early in the game after scoring nine runs in the first inning.
“These kids have been practicing and they are starting to get confidence,” Malvern manager John Wright said. “They are believing in themselves and are hitting the ball well.”
After taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Demia Timerson, Malvern’s Jake Wright hit a two-run home run to give his team a 3-0 lead.
Back-to-back walks to Brandon Scott and Darion Weaver put runners on first and second with nobody out. A fielder’s choice allowed Whit Jones to reach as Scott was thrown out at third.
With two outs, Hayes Conner reached on an error and for another run to score. Micah Hollyfield followed with a walk.
Lead-off hitter Logan Taylor reached on a dropped third strike but thanks to a couple of fielding errors, he was able to reach third and two more runs scored to give Malvern a 6-0 lead.
Timerson topped off the huge inning with a two-run home run to left-center field that was estimated to be about 300 feet.
“These kids are phenomenal,” White Hall manager Jason Young said of Malvern. “From one to nine, these are a great group of kids. Every one of them.”
Timerson finished the game 2 for 2 with three runs, a walk and three RBIs.
“The kid can swing the bat,” Wright said. “All of these kids can. Anyone of them at anytime can hit a home run.”
Taylor took the win, pitching four innings and allowing just two runs (both earned) on two hits with eight strikeouts and four walks.
“We went into this game with the mindset that if he continued to throw strikes and they couldn’t catch up to his fast ball, then we were going to leave him in the game,” Wright said.
Taylor was at 82 pitches – 85 is the maximum a pitcher can throw – when the final batter came to the plate. If he had reached, Malvern would have had to pull him.
Zack Motsinger is tagged with the loss. He allowed eight runs (six earned) on three hits with three walks and one strikeout in just two-thirds of an inning.
“It was a lot different than (Wednesday) night,” Young said, referring to White Hall’s 9-3 win over Pine Bluff Western. “We had a lot of momentum going into last night and we were still pumped about last night.
“We just never could get it going.”
White Hall scored two runs in the top of the third.
With one out, Walker Bailey hit a solo home run – his third home run in two days – to put White Hall on the board. Riley Durmon walked and later scored on a dropped third strike that allowed Jay Seale to reach first.
Bailey finished the game 1 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored.
“He has really come on as of late,” Young said. “He’s a great all around kid. His bat head was coming around quick and he was looking for the fast ball.”
Malvern finished off the game by scoring five runs in the bottom of the third inning. They also scored two runs in the second inning.
In the third, Wright had an RBI single and Scott had an RBI double. Weaver also singled home a run.
Bradley Reece closed out the game for White Hall. He pitched 3 1/3 innings and allowed eight runs on seven hits with two walks and one strikeout.
“We got down a little bit but started picking it back up in the middle innings,” Young said. “We had a couple passed balls at the plate and that hurt us.
“They were fast on the paths.”
For Malvern, Taylor finished 2 for 3 with three runs and a triple. Wright was 2 for 3 with two runs, three RBIs and a home run. Weaver was 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs.
“Anytime you are coming out of the loser’s bracket going into the championship game, it is already a downer,” Young said. “Because we knew we had to beat them twice.
“We knew it was going to be very difficult.”