SHERIDAN — In order to win back-to-back Junior American Legion state titles, Jonesboro Fat City would have to beat Texarkana twice, and Texarkana is the only team to beat Jonesboro in more than two weeks.
After a bit of a slow start in the first game, Fat City put together a five-run fifth inning and did not slow down from there. Fat City beat Texarkana 10-7 in the first game and went on to win game No. 2 12-4 to claim its second straight title.
Fat City, which lost to Texarkana 6-5 earlier in the tournament, had to beat Texarkana twice since it was a double-elimination tournament.
Since the first game the two teams played in the tournament was so close, Fat City coach Josh Allison said the team felt it still had a good shot at coming away with the title.
“We knew we were right there and we knew if we could get it here, get it to game two and get a shot at it, we felt good about it,” he said. “It’s a lot easier winning two because once you win that first one, the pressure turns to the other dugout. Just tried to win that first game and see what happens in the second game.”
Fat City (30-7) never trailed in the second game, either.
“Some of these kids, it’s back-to-back, but we have a lot of new kids though,” Allison said. “It’s good to bring it back to Jonesboro.”
Since there was a lot riding on the first game for Fat City, Allison pitched Ethan Moore, his ace, in the first game.
Tyler Eudy hit a two-run home run for the Jonesboro team in the first inning before Texarkana was able to take a 4-2 lead on Moore through four innings. Three of the runs were scored on double steals.
Fat City was able to break through with a five-run fifth inning. Fat City had four hits and benefitted from one error, two walks and a hit batter and took a 7-4 lead in the game.
Moore held Texarkana to one run in the bottom of the fifth before Fat City scored three in the sixth for the 10-5 lead. Texarkana scored two runs in the seventh, one off a Kyle Duncan solo home run, but that is all Moore would allow.
“He’s our horse and he went out there in the heat of the day and threw seven complete innings and saved our pitching for game two,” Allison said. “That’s exactly what we needed.”
Jonesboro was able to keep the hot-hitting going in the second game as Fat City scored at least one run in every inning except for the second.
The five-run fifth inning in the first game seemed to wake up Fat City’s bats, Allison said.
“It’s been like that all year. We will sit around and sit around and then five runs,” he said. “It was good to get the second one out of reach.”
Fat City had a 2-0 lead when Texarkana scored a run in the third. Both teams scored two runs in the fourth inning with Duncan hitting a two-run home run for Texarkana.
But Fat City pulled away with two runs in the fifth, five in the sixth and another run in the seventh for the 12-4 win. Texarkana scored its fourth run in the sixth.
For Texarkana, it was its first loss since the Junior Legion tournaments started.
“This time we just faced a team that did what they had to do to put us away, and that’s unfortunate,” Texarkana coach Brandon Wells said.