In Jacob Richardson’s first two at bats, there was a runner on second, but he failed to drive that runner in both times.
It was almost the same story when Richardson came up in the bottom of the sixth inning with Simmons First National Bank tied with Stuttgart at 2. Landen Colson was at third base with two outs when Richardson lined a single to left field to give Simmons a 3-2 lead, which it would hold onto for the win in a Freddie Wetzler Tournament game.
It was just the fourth hit in the game for Simmons, but it was enough to win the game.
“We didn’t hit very well as a team,” Richardson said. “I guess we just got some clutch hits at the right time.”
Stuttgart (1-3) scored right away with a two-out RBI single by Jay McGee in the first inning. But in the next three innings, Stuttgart left a runner at second base in the second and fourth innings and a runner on third in the third inning.
“We had runners at second a couple of times with one or less a couple of times and we have to produce better than that,” Stuttgart coach Kevin Youngblood said. “We work hard at putting the ball in play and making things happen. We had some hits; they just weren’t timely.”
Justin Dardenne led off the fourth inning for Simmons (2-2) by getting hit by a pitch. He went to second on Nick Hefley’s sacrifice bunt and scored two batters later on Zach Bradford’s sacrifice fly to left field.
Stuttgart broke the 1-1 tie when Hunter Harris singled to left field with two outs. The lead was short-lived, though, as Christopher Bryan led off the fifth inning for Simmons with a single. He later scored on a wild pitch.
Then in the sixth inning for Simmons, Colson was hit by a pitch with one out and reached second base on a wild pitch. He then went to third on Bradford’s fly ball out to center field before Richardson drove him in.
Youngblood said those lapses on defense allowed Simmons to get a couple of crucial runs.
“We had a few miscues on defense that really allowed that to happen,” he said. “He wouldn’t have advanced to third on that fly ball if it weren’t for that passed ball. That really hurt us.”
Stuttgart did have a runner at second again in the sixth but was unable to drive him in. The Ricemen left nine runners on base.
Harris took the loss for Stuttgart after giving up just four hits, walked none and struck out one.
“He did a real good job for us this spring and went 5-1 and was pretty much our ace,” Youngblood said. “He got a lot of first-pitch strikes and that helps. That’s what we focus on.”
Even though Simmons had just four hits, the team still scored three runs and won the game.
“They basically did just enough to win,” Simmons coach Dennis Dardenne said. “We are getting there slowly but surely. They aren’t quitting and their heads aren’t down.”
Pierce Sloan got the win after pitching two scoreless innings in relief. He struck out one. Justin Dardenne pitched the first five innings of the game for Simmons.
“We’ve been getting some good pitching and Pierce has always done a great job for us,” Dennis Dardenne said. “You can’t ask for a better player and he just comes out here and wants to play.”