Huggins hangs halo on Simmons

Sheridan’s Landon Huggins made his initial appearance of the summer one to remember Thursday night at Taylor Field in the opening round of the Freddie Wetlzer Tournament. He shut out Simmons 8-0 in six innings with a complete-game, 82-pitch performance.

Huggins, who is expected to sign a baseball scholarship with Arkansas Tech next week, said he was prepared to square off against Simmons and Watson Chapel product Zach Bradford.

“I’ve been doing showcases and keep working throughout the year,” Huggins said. “I try to keep warm and stay loose.”

Huggins got the best of Simmons and Bradford, who took his first loss in more than a year.

“I didn’t realize that,” said Sheridan coach J.R. Ware. “I saw him pitch in the state tournament against White Hall and that was a heck of a game. I was very impressed with him.”

Huggins breezed through the early goings, recording 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth and fifth, before loading the bases in the sixth on his only three walks of the outing.

Sheridan’s bats were hot early, collecting five hits in the first two innings and giving Huggins a seven-run cushion with three runs in the first and four in the second.

Bradford settled in after that, allowing just one hit through the final 3 1/3 before Sheridan closed the door with a run in the eighth, aided by two Simmons errors.

“After the first two innings he did a great job,” Simmons coach Dennis Dardenne said of Bradford. “You can’t ask anyone to do any better. But Sheridan is a good hitting team and well coached all the way around. I knew they could possibly give us some trouble.”

But it was the early trouble that started with a leadoff walk to Nick Ware that forecast the outcome. Ware was chased home by a single from Jake Smith. Smith then scored on a Grady Finley double. Zack Perkins drew a walk and scored on a Luke Nanneman groundout in the first.

Sheridan padded the advantage in the second, highlighted by Perkins’ solo blast over the left field wall. It was all Huggins needed to pick up the win.

“You’ve got to hand it to Huggins,” Dardenne said. “He threw a ballgame. He kept us off. We never could hit anything or get anything going.”

Simmons attempted to dent the scoreboard in the final frame but Huggins worked out of the self-induced, bases-loaded jam.

“We didn’t lay down and die,” Dardenne said. “We will bounce back. This is only our third game of the year so we will be there. We’ve got a few little kinks to work out but we will be there.”

Little Rock Blues 9, Benton 8

In the opening game of the tournament at Taylor Field, the Little Rock Blues nipped Benton with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and final inning as time expired in the 2-hour time-limited affair.

Daniel Imbro picked up the win for the Blues while Alex Wilcox absorbed the loss for Benton.

Theo Mitchell led the Blues at the plate with a pair of singles. Joey Abraham and Brandon Schmidt had a double apiece.

Tanner Bates tripled for Benton. Ryne Besancon doubled.