By Sam Pierce
OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF
After losing to Pine Bluff Northern on Sunday, the White Hall team collectively decided they still wanted to win a state championship but now they just had to do it the hard way. On Tuesday night, they made another step in achieving that goal by eliminating Pine Bluff Northern with a 4-3 win at Taylor Field in the Babe Ruth 15-year-old state championship.
“It meant a lot,” manager Russ Sparks said. “The kids played hard and they had their mind up.
“We were going to do it the hard way.”
Layne Hartsfield paved the way for White Hall, finishing the day 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBIs. He also pitched a complete game — allowing just three runs on five hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
“We brought Hartsfield in the second game and we were going to ride him,” Sparks said. “He did a great job.
“He has done real well (in this tournament), but we have had other guys step up too.”
White Hall advanced to Tuesday’s late game after defeating Hamburg 14-4 in five innings.
“I tip my hat off to the White Hall team,” Pine Bluff Northern manager Randy Little said. “They are a great team.”
White Hall took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
Dutton Day led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Blake Bradshaw. An RBI single by Dylan Cantwell plated Day for the one-run lead.
Cantwell finished Monday with three hits and two RBIs.
“He has been hot lately,” Sparks said. “He struggled against (Northern) the other day — striking out three times — but today he came out guns a blazing.
“I was real pleased with him.”
Wednesday night’s championship game against Pine Bluff Seabrook begins at 5 p.m.
“They had their minds made up when we came out here,” Sparks said. “We were going to win.”
White Hall took a three-run lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Caleb Carr led off the inning with a single and later scored on Hartsfield’s triple. An infield single plated Hartsfield from third and White Hall had a 3-0 lead.
“You have to make the little plays,” Little said. “And it has been the little plays that has hurt us in both losses.”
Northern — who lost to Seabrook in extra innings on Monday — responded with two runs in the top of the fifth.
With one out, Xavier Roberson walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A walk to Cameron Robertson put two runners on with two outs.
An RBI single by Davion White plated Roberson and moved Robertson to third. With the score 3-1, Robertson was able to score after an errant throw by Hartsfield. It got Northern within one run.
“Somebody gotta lose,” Little said. “It just happened to be us today.”
Jaylon DeShazier was tagged with the loss after pitching six innings and allowing four runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts.
“He is a special kid,” Little said. “You only get a kid like that once in a lifetime.
“You don’t see a kid like that come through very often.”
After White Hall took a 4-2 lead thanks to an RBI double by Hartsfield, Northern scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to get the deficit back to one run.
“I’ve got a great group of guys,” Little said. “We are going to try to keep them together.”
White finished the game 1 for 3 with an RBI and Bernard Black was 1 for 2. DeShazier had a hit and a stolen base.
For White Hall, Carr finished 2 for 3 with two runs scored while Day finished 1 for 3 with a run scored and two strikeouts.
“(Wednesday night) is not going to be easy because Seabrook is a good team, too,” Sparks said. “But we will see what happens.”
White Hall 14, Hamburg 4 (5 inn.)
Four White Hall players tallied two hits as White Hall advanced with a 14-4 win over Hamburg in Monday’s afternoon game.
Caleb Carr, Layne Hartsfield, Dutton Day and Dylan Cantwell all had two hits for White Hall. Carr and Blake Bradshaw scored two runs each for White Hall while Hartsfield and Cantwell scored a run.
Chris Bryan finished 1 for 2 with three runs scored.
Day earned the win after three innings pitched. Cantwell threw the final two innings to end it.