HARRISON — Fordyce found itself in a scoreless tilt with 8-3A Conference rival Smackover for three innings.
Then, Jakeymes Gates got the Redbugs going.
Gates launched a fourth-inning home run that opened the scoring, Braden Chambers played big at the plate and on the mound, and the Redbugs have reached their second straight 3A state championship game with a 6-1 win over the Buckaroos on Saturday. Fordyce, the third seed from Region 4, will take on Region 4 champion Genoa Central at 10 a.m. next Saturday at the University of Arkansas’ Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
The championship game will be a rematch of the regional semifinal won by Genoa Central 5-4.
“We’re real excited about it,” Fordyce coach Tim Rodgers said about getting another shot at a championship. Fordyce lost last year’s final to Harding Academy.
“The pitching and defense was great,” Rodgers added. “We’ve only given up two runs at state.”
Fordyce followed a 1-0 win over Mayflower — highlighted by Chambers’ no-hitter and Tommy Tidwell’s home run — with a 3-1 win over Danville on Friday.
Against Smackover — which Fordyce shared the 8-3A championship with — Gates’ solo shot put the Redbugs on the board. Fordyce added two runs in the fifth, one on a Tidwell double and another by Caleb Hartgen on a passed ball, then produced two runs on an error on Alex Payne’s at-bat and the last score on Chambers’ RBI double in the seventh.
Ross Rogers picked up the win after 4 1/3 innings of work, and Chambers worked the rest of the way to finish off the Buckaroos.