BY EASTON LEONARD –
The Mena Bearcat baseball team kicked off their 2017 season Monday Night, February 27th, against the DeQueen Leopards at Union Bank Field on the campus of Mena High School.
Landon Stidman earned the starting pitching job for the season opener, and for the first pitching of this season, he threw a ball low and away to the Leopards lead-off hitter. Stidman and the Bearcats were able to retire DeQueen’s first two batters, before allowing a walk to the Leopard’s three-hole hitter. After a passed ball, allowing the runner to advance to third, Stidman threw over to third for the pick-off, but his throw went into the outfield, allowing the runner to score. Following DeQueen’s first run of the night, Mena walked another batter, and then escaped the inning as the Leopard’s grounded out to the pitcher.
DeQueen’s starting pitcher, number ten, struck out the first two batters he saw, before Colton Sawyer drew a walk. After the walk, Mena’s Brycen Aynes struck out swinging, to end the inning with the score 1-0 in favor of the Leopards.
The Bearcats sent Stidman out for another inning of work in the second, as he struck out the first batter of the inning. DeQueen then singled to left field for their first hit of the night. Stidman later struck out the third batter of the inning as well. After a few walks and multiple passed balls and errors, the Leopards were able to add on two runs in the top of the second.
Ty Keene struck out to start off the bottom of the second, but reached first base as the catcher dropped the ball. With a runner on first, Mena’s Chandler Fretz singled to center field, to put runners at first and second with no outs. However, after a pop out and two strikeouts, the Leopards were able to keep Mena scoreless after letting the first two batters reach base. To keep the score 3-0 Leopards, after two complete innings.
Mena sent out C.J. Brown to pitch in the third inning, he retired the first two Leopard batters via groundouts. The Bearcats then gave up a walk and a double, hit a batter, and missed a few plays to allow DeQueen to score three more runs. After two and a half innings, the score was 6-0.
Stidman led off the bottom of the third for the Bearcats with a single to the pitcher, and then stole second base on the next pitch. Luke Golding struck out a few pitches later, giving Colton Sawyer a chance to drive in the run, with a runner on second and only one out. With Sawyer batting, DeQueen’s pitcher thew back to second base for the pick off, but his throw went into centerfield, allowing Stidman to advance to third. A few pitches later, Sawyer singled down the right field line, driving in Mena’s first run of the season. Brycen Aynes was able to reach base after the pitcher bobbles the ball, to put runners at first and second with still only one out. After a strikeout by Ty Keene, the Bearcats were able to score again off a bobbled ball by the Leopards third baseman. Mena’s Beckman then struck out to end the inning. After two runs, the Bearcats narrowed DeQueen’s lead to 6-2 after three innings.
The Bearcats sent out Colton Sawyer to pitch in the fourth inning. Sawyer faced nine batters and wasn’t able to retire a single one of them. Mena’s defense played a big part though, dropping a few bloopers and missing a few ground balls. Brycen Aynes came into the game to face the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth batters of the inning, and gave up a walk, hit a batter, and took a single off of the shin. The Bearcats then brought in Kyndon Schuller, who finished the inning for Mena, facing five batters. DeQueen ended up scoring 11 total runs in the fourth, to make the score 17-2 going into the bottom half of the inning.
C.J. Brown led off the bottom of the fourth for the Bearcats, as he struck out. Schuller then walked, Jeremiah Swint ran as a courtesy runner for Schuller. Landon Stidman and Luke Golding both struck out to end the inning, with the score 17-2 after four.
In the fifth, and final inning of play, Mena sent out Ian Martin to pitch. After allowing a pop up single to the first batter he faced, Martin retired the next three in order.
Colton Sawyer, Brycen Aynes, and Ty Keene all struck out in the bottom half of the fifth to end the game. The final score was 17-2 in favor of the DeQueen Leopards.