Conway Christian scored three insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning and Heber Springs left two runners in scoring position during the bottom half of the final frame as the Eagles edged the Panthers 11-8 on Tuesday at Panther Field.
Despite the high score, Heber Springs Coach B.J. Greene said his pitchers had quality outings. “Our pitching kept us in the game today. Judson Smith started and he came in and did a good job. Early on we made some good plays behind him and then Colby Allen came in and I thought he threw really well too.
“Colby has really fallen into the role as our No. 2 guy, but when he came in we just started booting it around. When you boot it around teams that are good, and they are a good team, are going to make you pay and they did.”
The Panthers led 3-1 after the first inning and 4-3 through two frames, but Conway Christian (7-3) pushed across two runs in the third and two more fourth for a 7-4 lead.
After Allen retired the Eagles in order in the top of the fifth, including two strikeouts, Conway Christian pitcher Andrew Dather worked around a one-out single by Smith, who moments later was caught stealing second for the second out. Dather notched a strikeout for the final out of the fifth inning.
The Eagles pushed their lead to 8-4 in the sixth as Chandler Ferrand reached by error and scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Casey Roark.
In the bottom of the sixth, Allen singled to right field and Chandler Marquardt singled to left field before Blaine Hill was hit-by-a-pitch, loading the bases with no outs.
Dillion Moore drove home courtesy runner Chandler Jones with an RBI groundout to shortstop then Marquardt scored on a double steal as Moore took second on the throw, which was cut off but bobbled, allowing Marquardt to score easily.
Dather responded with two straight strikeouts, leaving Moore stranded in scoring position as the Eagles took an 8-6 lead to the seventh.
Brandon Helms delivered a one-out, 2 RBI single to left field in the top of the seventh and Tanner Stevenson added an RBI single to center, boosting Conway Christian's lead to 11-6 before Heber got out of the top half.
Paden Flippin, who finished 1-for-3, walked to start the bottom of the seventh, causing the Eagles to relieve Dather with Helms, who Smith greeted with a single.
Michael Kramer walked to load the bases for Allen, who sent a bad-hop, 2 RBI single past third base, plating courtesy runner Chandler Jones along with Smith.
With runners at first and second, Helms retired Marquardt on a line drive to left field. Blaine Hill followed with a dribbler to left side, moving both runners into scoring position for Moore, who hit a high pop-up to right side, where Ferrand made the catch from his second base position as the Eagles held on for an 11-8 win.
Page 2 of 2 - Allen led Heber at the plate, finishing 4-for-4 with 4 RBI. Smith, Kramer, Harley Hooten and Moore added two hits apiece for the Panthers, who return to conference play on Monday at Newport.
Jones scored a team-high three runs for the Panthers.
“We left six runners total on base and two at the end of the game,” said Greene. “We struck out looking five times and struck out swinging four times so we had nine strikeouts. Right now we have just not played an all-around good game. But, the kids are competing in practice and in the games. Things are going to get good, we've just got to get the switch to flip,” added Greene.