WHITE HALL — Again, a first-inning home run got the White Hall All-Stars going in a Little League 12-year-old District 3 tournament game.
Make that two homers in the inning. Make that seven for the tournament.
“That’s a lot of home runs,” manager Dickie Lunsford said.
A three-run shot by Zac Harbison, a two-run blast by Garret Dennis and solo homers by Dutton Day and Carson Alexander highlighted White Hall’s four-inning, 14-0 victory over Hot Springs on Thursday night on its own field named after Lunsford. The onslaught comes one day after White Hall belted three in the tournament opener against Pine Bluff Western.
How Lunsford’s team has been able to produce only seems simple.
“Just practicing on hitting the ball in the cage,” Harbison said. “We’re ready as we can be.”
White Hall went around the order each inning on offense and finished with 10 hits, but it wasn’t all about hitting. Day, Bryce Kincaid and Ryan Ruff combined to hold Hot Springs to one hit in 20 at-bats. Day pitched 1 2/3 innings, striking out four. Kincaid matched that strikeout total in 1 1/3 innings and gave up the only hit to Grayson Overton. Ruff closed it out in the fourth inning.
White Hall advanced to the championship round, where it will either play Hot Springs on Monday or Pine Bluff Western at 6 p.m. Saturday. Hot Springs and Western will meet at 6:30 p.m. today for the other spot in the final.
“We’ve got some strong kids, but we haven’t played our best baseball game yet,” Lunsford said. “We’ll stop the curveball striking us out or maybe dropping a ball here and there, but we’ve still got some ball playing ahead of us.”
White Hall has homered in the opening frame in two straight games. On Thursday, it jumped to a 6-0 lead with the help of two hit batsmen before Harbison’s homer, an RBI double by Nick Roper and single by Remington Curtis. Alexander took a two-out, full-count pitch straight over center field, and Ruston Smith singled on a 2-2 pitch to orbit White Hall around the batting order.
Day continued the White Hall onslaught with a two-run jack over the scoreboard in the second inning. Curtis then knocked across two runs with a double and Roper hit an RBI sacrifice grounder.
Hot Springs had its best scoring threat in the third with bases loaded, but Kincaid struck out the next batter for the third out. Then in the bottom of the inning, Dennis — who homered and singled twice against Western — laced a two-run homer over right field. Curtis finished off the offensive charge with a double and scored on a passed ball, ending up 3 for 3 with two doubles. He and Harbason, who was 2 for 2 with a walk, each scored three runs.
White Hall earned its way into the state tournament, which begins June 20. White Hall is the defending state champion and looking for a return trip to the Southwest Regional in Waco, Texas, the final step before the Little League World Series.