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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • ’Jackets sting Panthers, twice

  • The Clinton Yellowjackets kept their quest for a 2-4A conference title alive by sweeping Heber Springs (7-5, 11-8) on Friday in a twin bill between lake area rivals in Clinton.

    The Panthers fell to 6-12 overall and 4-6 in league play while the ’Jackets improved to 19-6 overall and 8-2 in league games.

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  • The Clinton Yellowjackets kept their quest for a 2-4A conference title alive by sweeping Heber Springs (7-5, 11-8) on Friday in a twin bill between lake area rivals in Clinton.
    The Panthers fell to 6-12 overall and 4-6 in league play while the ’Jackets improved to 19-6 overall and 8-2 in league games.
    In Game 1, Heber took an early 1-0 lead on a leadoff home run from Michael Ludwig, who lined the ball over the right field fence. Clinton starting pitcher Kendall Bates worked around a single from Brooks Morgan, limiting the Panthers to one run in the first inning.
    Clinton countered with four runs on two hits in the bottom of the first inning. Facing Ludwig, Heber’s starting pitcher, the ’Jackets caught a break with two outs when Nick Tester’s grounder to shortstop took a bad-hop, giving Tester a single and scoring David Keeling, who reached on a walk.
    After Dalton Jackson was hit-by-a-pitch, John Hastings delivered a 3 RBI triple that skipped past a charging Morgan and to the left field fence as Park Parish and Harrison Lester, who both walked, scored along with Tester.
    Trailing 4-1 entering the second, the Panthers trimmed their deficit with one run on two hits. Michael Kramer led off with a single up the middle and Harley Hooten followed with a looping double down the right field line, moving Kramer to third.
    Judson Smith’s sacrifice-bunt plated Kramer for an RBI as Heber sliced Clinton’s lead in half. With runners at the corners after Jackson Thomas walked, Bates pitched out of further trouble with the help of an infield pop-out and strikeout.
    Ludwig retired the side in order in the bottom of the second, including two by strikeout, and the Panthers scored another run in the third, starting when Morgan reached on a two-base throwing error.
    Paden Flippin drove home Morgan by crushing an RBI double down the left field line but Bates retaliated with two strikeouts, then he got Hooten on a fly-ball to Trey Wilkins in centerfield.
    Leading 4-3, Clinton created a little breathing room in the bottom of the third as Lester reached on a one-out error and scored when Tester drove an RBI double to deep right field. Ludwig fired back with two consecutive strikeouts, leaving Tester stranded in scoring position.
    In the fourth, Bates pitched around a one-out push bunt single by Thomas followed by a single up the middle off the bat of Geoffrey Anderson as he retired the next two batters, including one by strikeout.
    Ludwig retired the ’Jackets in order in the bottom half of the fourth but Bates struck out the side in the fifth while issuing a two-out walk to Kramer.
    In the bottom of the fifth, Clinton scored two runs despite not recording a hit. Fielder Dufrene reached by error to start the inning then Parish walked but Ludwig responded with a strikeout. Following a walk to Tester, which loaded the bases, pinch-hitter Weston Smith worked a full-count walk for an RBI that scored Dufrene.
    Page 2 of 4 - After Parish scored on a wild pitch as Clinton’s lead grew to 7-3, Ludwig notched a strikeout and retired Wilkins on a line drive to Blaine Hill in right field, ending the fifth with the ’Jackets holding a 7-3 lead.
    Thomas and Anderson drew two straight walks with one out in the sixth but Bates got Ludwig on a fly-out to deep left field. Morgan delivered a two-out, RBI single up the middle that scored Thomas and both Morgan and Anderson advanced on an error, giving Heber two runners in scoring position.
    Bates struck out the Panthers’ cleanup hitter, leaving two stranded in scoring position as the ’Jackets took a 7-4 lead to the bottom of the sixth.
    Derrik Fisher relieved Ludwig to begin the sixth and pitched around a pair of two-out walks issued to Dufrene and Parish. Fisher struck out two batters in the inning, including Clinton’s cleanup hitter, ending the threat.
    Down to its final three outs, Kramer worked a one-out walk and took second on a wild pitch before Hooten slammed an RBI single to left center, scoring Kramer and causing Clinton to relieve Bates with Parish.
    Parish slammed the door with two strikeouts, leaving one runner stranded in scoring position as Clinton held on for a 7-5 victory.
    Similar to Game 1, Heber jumped out to an early lead in Game 2, this time scoring two runs in the first frame. Facing Dufrene, Clinton’s starting pitcher, Anderson led off with a bunt single and Kramer reached on an error before Ludwig drove home Anderson with an RBI groundout to Parish at shortstop.
    Flippin followed with a single to left field and he stole second, which drew a throw that allowed Kramer to score from third as the Panthers took a 2-0 lead before Dufrene pitched out of further damage.
    Facing Anderson, Heber’s starting pitcher, Clinton countered with four runs on three hits in the bottom of the first. Dufrene got the ’Jackets stirring with a one-out walk then Parish pulled a single through the hole on left side.
    With two down, Wilkins kept the inning alive with a single, which loaded the bases for Tester, who drew an RBI walk that scored Dufrene and sliced Clinton’s deficit in half at 2-1.
    Bates then delivered a bases-clearing double to the alley in left center that scored Parish, Wilkins and Tester, giving Clinton a 4-2 lead before Anderson got out of the jam.
    Dufrene pitched around a two-out double by Smith in the second and the ’Jackets added an insurance run in the bottom half.
    With the bases loaded after two walks and a Dufrene bunt single, Anderson induced Parish into a fly-out to Morgan in left field.
    Page 3 of 4 - But, with two down Clinton came through again, this time when Lester drew an RBI walk that scored Jackson and forced Heber to relieve Anderson with Smith, who got out of the inning with a 6-4-3 double play turned by Flippin at shortstop and Thomas at second.
    The Panthers battled back with two runs on two hits in the top of the third, starting when Kramer reached on a dropped third strike. With one out, Flippin singled and moved to second on an error as Kramer took third.
    Hooten smashed a line drive to right field that was misplayed, allowing Kramer and Flippin to score as Heber trimmed its deficit to 5-4 and looked for more once Morgan slapped a single to right field. But, after Morgan advanced to second on a wild pitch, Dufrene got out of the inning when Tester made a catch near the backstop from his catcher’s position.
    Smith struck out the side in the bottom half of the third but the Panthers failed to capitalize in the fourth despite a leadoff walk by Thomas. Smith’s sacrifice-bunt moved Thomas into scoring position then Anderson singled to left field, giving Heber runners at the corners. With one out, Dufrene managed to get out of the jam by inducing a pop-up on a bunt attempt and retiring Ludwig on a groundout to Cody Louder at third base.
    Smith pitched around a two-out double by Dufrene followed by a Parish walk in the bottom of the fourth, recording three more strikeouts along the way.
    With Clinton still clinging to a 5-4 lead entering the fifth, Heber tied the game with a run as Flippin worked a full-count walk to lead off the inning and he stole second. But, Parish, who relieved Dufrene to begin the frame, fired back with a pair of strikeouts.
    That’s when Fisher smoked an RBI single to left field that scored Flippin and tied the game at 5-all. Following a Thomas walk, Parish responded with a strikeout, leaving two runners stranded.
    Clinton exploded with six runs in the bottom of the fifth as Tester singled, Bates reached on an error and Keeling beat out a bunt single, loading the bases for Jackson, who sent a chopper to third base. Courtesy runner Colson Tester beat the throw to the plate as the ’Jackets took a 6-5 lead and expanded upon it when Dufrene pulled a 2 RBI single to left field, plating Bates and Keeling.
    With two down, Heber intentionally walked Parish to reload the bases for Lester, who ripped an RBI single up the middle that scored Jackson. Wilkins added a 2 RBI single to right field that scored Dufrene and Parish as Clinton’s lead grew to 11-5 before Kramer relieved Smith and got out of the inning.
    Page 4 of 4 - Heber refused to go down quietly, scoring three runs before the ’Jackets recorded an out in the sixth. Anderson beat out an infield single to start the frame and Kramer walked before Ludwig blasted a three-run home run over the left field wall, suddenly pulling the Panthers within three at 11-8.
    Parish regained his groove and retired the next three batters, including two by strikeout as Clinton maintained a three-run cushion entering the bottom of the sixth. Kramer only allowed one base runner in the sixth and Heber tried to piece together a rally in the seventh, starting when Thomas was hit-by-a-pitch with one out.
    Parish fired back with a strikeout but the Panthers remained alive as Anderson poked a single to left field and Kramer walked, loading the bases for Ludwig, who sent a grounder down the third base line. Clinton’s third baseman handled Ludwig’s grounder and stepped on the bag to force Anderson as the ’Jackets claimed an 11-8 victory and a series sweep.
    Following Tuesday’s nonconference game at Conway Christian, the Panthers are scheduled to host Cave City on Friday for a 2-4A conference doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.
     
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