SHERIDAN — Every Sheridan starter reached base in one way or another, and that was just in the fourth inning.
The Yellowjackets plated its final seven runs in that decisive frame and made it hold up in a 9-5 win over Pine Bluff on Tuesday at Oliver Williams Field.
“We executed some things and got good solid at-bats,” Sheridan coach Mike Moore said of the inning. “Before that we had a lot of pop-ups.
“(In that inning) we executed a couple of really good bunts and we had some timely hits.”
Trailing 3-2, Sheridan starting pitcher Tyler McKinzie led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. By the time McKinzie was up to bat again later that inning, the other eight Yellowjacket hitters had all reached base in some fashion.
All told, Sheridan hitters reached base on four singles, a double, a walk, a hit-by-pitch, a fielder’s choice and an error in the inning.
A dejected Ryan Stinson probably summed it up best from the Pine Bluff perspective.
“Just had a bad inning,” the Zebras’ head coach said. “We didn’t do what it takes to win.”
Entering the bottom of the fourth, Pine Bluff starter Kacy Higgins had battled through three innings — stranding runners at second base in every frame — but still saw his team in the lead.
Higgins wasn’t as lucky in the fourth, though — exiting after facing seven batters and recording just one out on a force out at home plate.
Michael Roberts came on in relief and gave up a two-run single to Lathan Wylie, who finished 2 for 4 with four RBIs, and walked Nick Whitley before settling down to retire the next two batters.
By then the damage had been done and the Yellowjackets (18-8, 8-5 in 7A/6A South) had themselves a 9-3 lead.
“It was a solid inning,” Moore said. “We put a little pressure on them.
“Everybody stepped up (Tuesday) and played hard.”
Moore said he was particularly pleased with how McKinzie threw the ball on Tuesday.
“He’s gotten gradually better over the season,” Moore said of the senior. “He’s pitched a lot more the last two weeks.
“(Tuesday) was one of those days where we really had to have it.”
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for McKinzie, as Pine Bluff (11-11, 4-9) struck for three runs in the second inning to take an early lead.
Jaylon DeShazier walked and Tyler Smith reached on a single to set the table for Cameron Robertson to drive in two runs with a double.
A single by Gealander Harris III brought in Robertson, who had to leave the game after twisting his ankle in the fourth inning.
“We’ll monitor it and get it checked out,” Stinson said.
After Sheridan’s big inning, Pine Bluff looked set to respond with one of its own.
A walk to Adam Graham, a double by Higgins and a walk to DeShazier loaded the bases with one out for the Zebras.
A throwing error by Wylie on a grounder off the bat of Jordan O’Guinn allowed Graham and Higgins to score, but that was all McKenzie would allow the rest of the way.
Even before Sheridan’s big inning, McKenzie was helping keep his team in the ballgame.
O’Guinn was hit by a pitch to start the third inning and Smith followed with his second single. Following a strikeout, Malik Isaiah laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Harris flew out to end the threat.
“He did a great job of making adjustments,” Moore said of McKenzie. “Every time they got something going he would buckle down and get the strike out or whatever we needed.
“There was one inning where they got runners at first and second with nobody out and they didn’t score. That was big.”