PB Braves start season blasting LR Rangers

LITTLE ROCK — The Pine Bluff Braves’ offense enjoyed a strong kickoff to the season Sunday, producing 12 hits in a 9-3 victory over the Little Rock Rangers at Fair High School.

It was the 62nd season opener for the semi-professional Braves.

The Rangers scored two runs in the second inning for the early lead, but the Braves evened the score in the third. James Mitchell hit a single to center to score Dillon Miller, who reached on an error, and Deonta Howard, who reached on a hit ahead of Mitchell, tied the game on a wild pitch.

Pine Bluff scored three in the fourth. Miller hit a double to left to score Trey Stargell, who led off with a hit. Nathaniel Thompson’s groundout to short scored V.J. Dickson, and Howard drove in Miller on a sacrifice grounder.

Stargell blasted a two-run home run in the fifth inning, and Little Rock scored its last run in the frame. Dickson singled to left for the Braves’ eighth run in the seventh. Howard and Mitchell both had a pair of stolen bases and a hit apiece to drive in a run in the eighth.

Mitchell went 4 for 5 with an RBI.

Michael Newby struck out four in five complete innings to earn the pitching victory. Jeffery Works pitched the sixth and seventh innings and struck out four, while Chase Smith and Howard worked the eighth and ninth, respectively.

The Braves next will play in the third annual Little Rock Rangers Memorial Weekend Tournament.