A win over Crossett with one or zero runs allowed would guarantee White Hall’s Relyance Bank a spot in the John Gross Memorial Tournament championship game on Sunday.
Even a loss, as long as it wasn’t by more than two runs, would keep White Hall with a chance — albeit an outside one — at reaching the title game.
The problem was White Hall had already played three games in three days before Saturday afternoon’s game against Crossett, meaning their pitching staff was stretched thin.
A strained pitching staff combined with an inopportune offense added up to an 11-5 loss that eliminated White Hall (4-2) from possibly making the championship game.
“Pitching is definitely slim when you play four games in three days,” White Hall coach Justin Holt said. “We hit the ball pretty well. We just left the runners on base.
“Our pitchers threw strikes. We just didn’t make every play we should have behind them.
“But we finished the tournament 2-2, and overall I think we played pretty well.”
On the other side, Crossett did exactly what it needed to do to give itself a chance of reaching the title game.
“We’d love the opportunity to play another game,” coach Gary Fife said. “I think we’d be pretty tough to beat.
“I don’t think anybody would want to play us.”
For Crossett (2-2) to qualify for the championship game against the Pine Bluff Tigers, it needed Southern Arkansas — previously identified as Shreveport, La. — to beat PRO-DAY Elite by at least six runs in the last of the round-robin games on Saturday night.
It didn’t end up happening as PRO-DAY rolled to a 9-2 win to finish pool play with a 3-1 mark — its only loss coming against the Tigers on Thursday night. The championship game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today at Taylor Field.
Even still, the fact that Crossett gave itself a chance to be in the tournament final is impressive.
“Thursday was their first game,” Fife said of his team. “We hadn’t even practiced.
“That game Thursday was the first time the team had been together.”
White Hall’s players have been together longer than that — having played two games prior to the tourney. The squad that took the field against Crossett featured just three players, Caleb Carr, Kirk Baugh and Justin Archer, who started for White Hall’s high school team in the 5A state championship game win over Pulaski Academy in May.
“We have a lot of guys out there moving around,” Holt said. “We’re putting some guys in some different spots, trying to see what they can and can’t do.
“Some of the things are going well, some not so well, but we’ll capitalize on this experience.”
PRO-DAY Elite 9, Southern Arkansas 2
PRO-DAY Elite set up a rematch with the Pine Bluff Tigers thanks to a win over Southern Arkansas in the final pool-play game of the John Gross Memorial Tournament.
PRO-DAY Elite, which lost to the Tigers, 8-6, on Thursday, plated five runs in the opening frame and added three in the third inning to grab control of Saturday’s game. PRO-DAY, which finished pool play with a 3-1 record, later tacked on a run in the seventh.
Southern Arkansas, which ended the tournament with an 0-4 mark, scored two in the third for its only runs. Clay Mahaffey paced Southern Arkansas, going 2 for 2.
Billy Kittrell and Reise Bell each finished 2 for 3 with a walk for PRO-DAY, while Keston Klimek tossed a complete game.
PB Tigers 2, Crossett 1
Pine Bluff secured a spot in the John Gross Memorial Tournament championship game despite having just one hit in Saturday’s win.
The Tigers’ Kirel Young reached on a two-out single in the second inning, stole second base and came home on an error.
Two more errors by Crossett, which fell to 1-2 in the tourney, helped Pine Bluff break a 1-1 tie in the sixth as Gealander Harris crossed the plate.
Crossett and threatened to tie the game in the seventh, getting two runners on base with just one out. Pine Bluff, though, escaped with back-to-back strikeouts to finish pool play with a 3-1 record.
White Hall 9, Southern Arkansas 3
A pair of big innings helped White Hall win its first game on Saturday.
After Southern Arkansas, 0-3 in the tourney, scored a run in the first inning, White Hall countered with five runs in the second and four runs in the third.
Chase Bryan finished the game 2 for 2 for White Hall. Bryan was one of three White Hall players to score two runs in the game, joining Alec Hartz and Jake Green.
Will Smith finished 1 for 2 with a walk for Southern Arkansas, which also scored single runs in the second and third innings.