BY EASTON LEONARD –
Last Friday night, March 2nd, the Mena Bearcats baseball team hosted the Bauxite Miners for their home and season opener at Union Bank Field.
Kyndon Schuller started the night on the mound for the Bearcats. The first pitch of the season for Mena was a ball outside to the Miners. The first batter for Bauxite went on to walk on five pitches. After two steals and another walk, the Miners had runners on the corners with three hole hitter at the plate. Schuller recorded his first out, on a groundout to third base, giving up one run. The next batter for the Miners flied out to right fielder Brycen Aynes, but batted in another run on a tag up. The fifth an final batter for Bauxite in the first inning grounded out to second base, as Schuller escaped the inning giving up only two runs.
After a strikeout to lead off the bottom of the first by Schuller, Brown singled on a liner to right center, giving the Bearcats their first base runner of the season. After a fly out to right field, and a check swing strikeout, Mena was able to score no runs, leaving the score at 2-0 after one complete inning.
Three batter into the top of the second, Schuller gave up a single and two walks, to load the bases with no outs. Schuller then struck out the fourth batter of the inning on three batters. The next batter, number twenty, flew out to left center field, scoring another run on a tag up. Schuller then walked the next batter, to again load the bases, but was able to get out of the jam, thanks to a slick catch by second baseman Colton Sawyer.
Two pitches into the bottom of the second inning, Colton Sawyer hit a line drive single into right field. Blake Castor was then called out on strikes, after seeing five pitches. With one out and a runner on third, Brycen Aynes was hit by a pitch, to put runners at the corners. One pitch later, Aynes was thrown out trying to steal second base. With two outs, TJ Kizer walked, but the Bearcats threat to score was ended on a strikeout by Chandler Fretz. Making the score 3-0 after two full innings.
Ian Martin stepped on the mound for Mena to start the third inning. After a seven pitch single and a hit by pitch, a mishandled bouncer to third baseman Mason Brotherton, scored a run for the Miner, and put runner at first and second with no outs. Following a pop out to first base, the Bearcats were able to get another out after a Miner tried to steal home on a passed ball. After a walk and another mishandled grounder at third, Mena was able to get out of the inning on a fly out to right field, allowing only two runs, to make the score 5-0 Bauxite.
To lead off the bottom of the third, pitcher Ian Martin singled on a line drive right up the middle of the field. CJ Brown then did the same, putting runners at first and second with no outs for Mena. The next batter, Sam Efird, then grounded into a fielders choice, to put runners at the corners with one down. Mason Brotherton then lined a hanging curveball into centerfield, to score the Bearcats first run of the season. Mena was unable to score another run in the inning, to make the score 5-1 after three complete.
Martin came out for his second inning of work in the top of the fourth. After walking the first two batters, the Miners lined a single into right field to score another and put the runners at second and third with no outs. The next Miner to bat hit a grounder to short, but reached first base, scoring another Bauxite run, to make the score 7-1 with no outs and runner at first and third. The Miners went on to score five more runs in the top of the fourth, to extend their lead to 12-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, Castor struck out, Aynes struck out, and Kizer grounded out to the first baseman, to keep the Miners eleven point lead in tact after four complete innings.
Colton Sawyer remained in the game for the top of the fifth, after pitching to two batters in the top of the fourth. Sawyer got the first batter to groundout to second, the second batter to groundout to shortstop, and the fourth batter of the inning to groundout to third base, to hold Bauxite scoreless in that half of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Fretz struck out after five pitcher, McConnel struck out on three pitches, and Brown grounded out to the pitchers after two pitches, to end the game, with the final score 12-1 Bauxite.
Also on the Friday night, the Mena Ladycats softball team took on DeQueen and lost by sixteen,18-2.
This Monday, March 5th, the Bearcats and Ladycats hosted Genoa Central. On Tuesday, March 6th, the Ladycats took on Cossatot River, and on Friday, March 9th, both the Bearcats and Ladycats will travel to Fouke.