The Pine Bluff Tigers had gotten off to poor starts in their opening two games of the John Gross Memorial Tournament on Thursday.
The Tigers, though, had managed to rally in both games. In their opener, Pine Bluff trailed 6-0 after two innings against White Hall before eventually tying the score at 6-6. White Hall eventually won, 7-6, on a walkoff double. In the nightcap, the Tigers rallied from a 4-0, second-inning deficit to beat PRO-DAY Elite, 8-6.
On Friday, Tigers coach Ernest Wooten wanted his team to turn the tables against Shreveport, La. Pine Bluff did just that as it jumped out to a 5-0 lead and basically cruised to a 5-2 win and improved to 2-1 in the second annual tournament.
“(Thursday) both games we were digging ourselves a hole,” Wooten said. “I told them we can’t keep do that, so I wanted them to jump on them early and we did that (Friday).”
The Tigers took advantage of some wildness on the part of Shreveport’s pitcher to plate three first-inning runs. Pine Bluff started the inning with three-straight singles, but it was two hit-by-pitches and two walks that helped push the runs across.
A two-run double by Jaylen Jackson, who finished the game 2 for 3, extended the lead to 5-0 in the second. However, the two-bagger was the final hit of the day for Pine Bluff.
“We started fast,” Wooten said. “When they start going and start playing a complete game, it’s going to be awesome to watch us play.”
Even with the lack of hitting, it was pretty awesome watching the Tigers play on Friday with the way Aaron McDonald was pitching and the way his defense was backing him up.
“McDonald did a wonderful job,” Wooten said. “He limited his pitches and stayed around the strike zone.
“Because of that, you got to be ready on defense. We were and it was the best, complete defensive game we’ve played. Just a great defensive performance.”
McDonald, who allowed two runs on five hits with six strikeouts, said the defensive effort helped fire him up.
“Knowing they are playing like that for me, makes me try harder for them,” said the soon-to-be redshirt freshman at Arkansas-Little Rock.
The all-around team effort helps give Pine Bluff an opportunity to reach Sunday’s championship game. A win today against Crossett would mean — at worst — the Tigers finish in a three-way tie for first. In that instance, a series of tiebreakers would be used to determine which two teams play in the championship game.
Whether or not Pine Bluff plays for the championship, McDonald said he thinks the team is starting to come together.
“We’re really feeling the chemistry,” he said. “We’re all great ballplayers.
“Once we get familiar, we’ll be a great team.”
Crossett 6, Shreveport, La. 3
Crossett pitcher Garrett Harrington had an uneven performance, but did enough on the hill to earn a complete-game victory as his team improved to 1-1 in the John Gross Memorial Tournament on Friday.
Harrington allowed just two hits and had 13 strikeouts but issued 10 walks. He outdueled Shreveport’s Beau Burton, who was saddled with the complete-game loss after allowing eight hits, six walks and one hit-by-pitch in six innings.
Shreveport, which was playing its tournament opener, struck first with a run in the top of the third. Crossett responded with four in the third and one in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead. Shreveport narrowed the gap with two in the fifth, but Crossett tacked on a run in the sixth.
Harrington and Logan Fife each finished the game 1 for 2 with a run and an RBI. Alex Herrod and Logan Harrington each had two hits and Kaylon Fisher finished 1 for 2 with two RBIs.
Ryan Downs led Shreveport with a 1-for-2 day with two walks and an RBI. Riley Orr finished 1 for 2 with a walk and two runs scored.
PRO-DAY Elite 5, White Hall 0
Abe Young tossed a one-hitter to lead PRO-DAY to its second win in the John Gross Memorial Tournament on Friday night.
PRO-DAY, which went 1-1 in the tournament on Thursday, scored one run in the second and four in the fourth.
Jake McNulty took the loss for White Hall, which falls to 1-1 in the tourney.