9-year-old squad doused from district tournament
GRAVETTE -- Carroll County rallied for 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth but couldn't complete the comeback in an 18-17 loss to Pea Ridge in the opening game of the 10-year-old Cal Ripken District 4 Tournament in Gravette Friday night before dropping out of the event with a 13-3 loss to Huntsville on Saturday.
Trailing 18-7 entering the fifth, Carroll County found its stroke, exploding for 10 runs to close the gap to 18-17 and had the tying run at third with two outs before a groundout to second base ended the game.
"We made a 10-run rally in the bottom of the fifth," Carroll County coach Jarrod Phillips said. "We finally started hitting the ball and were down two going to bottom of sixth. We had top of lineup coming up and the first two guys struck out. We got a hit from next three to put the tying run at third with two out and grounded out to second to end it."
After a two-hour delay on Saturday, Huntsville took advantage of spotty pitching in the first inning to take an advantage and Carroll County couldn't recover.
"I would say pitching was the biggest thing," Phillips said. "We couldn't find the strike zone and walks kill you. If they put the ball in play you have a chance to get them out. We have to get better at consistently throwing strikes."
Phillips said he would work on pitching and defense as Carroll County prepares for the Cal Ripken State Tournament in Harrison July 5-8.
"We are looking forward to playing state in Harrison," he said. "Our talent level is there. We just need practice time and game experience We will practice and work on a few things before state."
Jonah Needham started both games on the mound. He was relieved by Ross Nance and Body Teeter in the opener while Barrett Phillips and Dylan Sperduto came on in relief against Huntsville.
"We are going to work on situational stuff in practice and basic fielding and try to focus on getting better with our pitching mechanics," Phillips said. "We competed really well In the first game. We just started off slow. I don't know if it was nerves or what. Once we got momentum things started falling in place. The strike zone was very small and that led to a lot of walks. But it was consistent for all teams so you can't blame it on that."
Phillips noted Jayce Timmons, Teeter and Sperduto as being leaders at the plate. He said the squad learned some things in the district tournament that should help when they arrive in Harrison.
"I think they learned not to get to high when things are good or too down when they are bad," he said. "You are going to get an opportunity to score runs if you don't hang your head. They haven't played together all year and are starting to mesh together. They are learning how to play the game a little better."
He said playing at the next level will offer more opportunities to improve.
"We are going to play some teams that we can beat and some that will give us a challenge," he said. "We just want to continue to get better and go compete well. The guys never got down. They played as hard as they could the entire time. We just want to keep getting better."