Early walks help Zebras

The Pine Bluff Zebras tallied 13 runs in the first inning and cruised to a 17-1 win over the Dollarway Cardinals in three innings at Taylor Field on Thursday.

“It was a pretty good game for us,” Pine Bluff head coach Ryan Stinson said. “We were just trying to get some work in and play some quality baseball.”

The Zebras only managed eight hits in the win, but was helped out by 12 walks. Pine Bluff starting pitcher Kacy Higgins pitched two innings while allowing just one hit and no runs with one walk and three strikeouts.

“I thought we did well,” Stinson said of his team’s performance overall. “We took it step-by-step and weren’t trying to do anything too great. We just played the game like it was supposed to be play. Dollarway is going to be okay.”

Pine Bluff (8-4) put the first six men on while jumping out to a 3-0 lead before Dollarway (0-10) could record an out. After an RBI bases-loaded walk, Gealander Harris III ripped a three-RBI triple to left field to increase the lead to 7-0. Dollarway then walked the next five batters as the Zebras led 10-0. The Zebras would add three more runs before the Cardinals recorded the final two outs of the inning.

“We were not ready to play,” Dollarway head coach Greg Cleveland said. “We just didn’t do a very good job. We have had our share of ups and downs in pitching for sure, but we have been doing better as of late. I don’t know. We just couldn’t find the plate (Thursday).”

The Zebras added four more runs in the second inning with two of them coming from an inside-the-park home run by Higgins. After an error allowed another run, an RBI single from Blake Hence gave the Zebras its 17th run of the game.

Dollarway would strike the scoreboard in the top half of the third inning on an RBI groundout by Rayshawn Blake. The Cardinals had a chance to extend the game with two runners in scoring position, but a strikeout ended the game in three innings due to the sportsmanship run rule.

Cleveland said he was disappointed with the performance but knows the Cardinals can bounce back.

“The kids just need to go back and pitch like I know they can,” he said. “If they throw strikes, it keeps our defense on its toes. When you start walking batters, it gets them back on their heels and when they hit the ball, you’re not ready.”

Jaylon DeShazier went 1 for 1, but led Pine Bluff with two runs scored and three RBIs. Brandon Lowe also had a nice game finishing 2 for 2 with a run scored and two RBIs.

Pine Bluff will face Little Rock Fair today in 7A/6A-South Conference play at Taylor Field, and Stinson said the Zebras just need to continue to keep it simple.

“It’s pretty much just taking it the same way,” Stinson said. “We just need to play good quality baseball and not make mental errors. We just need to be prepared for anything that happens.”