It was not one bad inning that did the Pine Bluff baseball team in on Tuesday, which has been the case throughout the season.
Instead, it was the combination of a few bad innings that hurt the Zebras as El Dorado took the 6A-South Conference matchup 13-4 at Taylor Field.
El Dorado (13-4, 4-2 in 6A-South) scored nine runs combined in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 10-1 lead on Pine Bluff (3-14, 2-5). Even though the Zebras put together a three-run inning in the fifth, the deficit was too much for them to overcome.
“We’ve dug ourselves a hole like that all year, and we are kind of getting used to it,” Pine Bluff coach Greg Easter said. “They outhit us and they played defense well.”
El Dorado scored a run in the first inning off Dillon Smith’s RBI single, but Ryan Green’s RBI double scored Karl DeWalt to even up the game at 1 after two innings.
Then the floodgates opened for the Wildcats in the third inning. With one out, El Dorado loaded the bases for Ethan Russell, who drilled a hit to the right-center gap to clear the bases for a 4-1 lead.
Russell had a sacrifice fly later in the game to finish with four RBIs.
“Ethan Russell has been a big part and he’s had about eight RBIs in the past two games,” El Dorado coach Sam Tyler said. “He has been a clutch hitter of late and the guys in front of him are getting on.”
In the fourth inning, El Dorado added four runs on five hits, and then scored two runs on one hit in the fifth inning for the 10-1 lead.
The Wildcats pounded out 14 hits in the game.
“They came out swinging and I knew that from the scouting report on them,” Easter said. “We got the ball up in the zone and threw it down the middle of the plate. They aren’t going to miss that.”
Tyler said the offensive output was a total team effort.
“It’s been one through nine in our lineup and a lot of unselfishness,” he said. “It’s been not caring who gets the hit, but caring that we get the hit.”
As the Wildcats were getting their hits, Pine Bluff was held to one hit through the first four innings of the game. Pine Bluff started to get to Hendricks in the fifth inning. The Zebras strung together three runs on four hits in the inning to cut El Dorado’s lead to 10-4.
Adam Graham had a two-run single in the inning and DeWalt drove in the other run on an RBI infield single.
“We know if we can put it in play, we can have that big inning and get right back in it,” Easter said. “We kind of did that, but they stepped right back up and scored three more.”
Pine Bluff was held hitless in the final two innings and El Dorado added three more runs in the seventh to cap off the scoring.
Green took the loss as he went three innings and gave up six runs on eight hits on two walks. DeWalt was 1 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI and Graham was 1 for 4 with two RBIs.