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Baseball: Van Buren bats cool in quarterfinals

ROGERS — When the hitting goes, it goes.

Van Buren scored eight runs in yesterday’s first-round win against Little Rock Catholic in the 7A State Baseball Tournament and another three in the first inning in Friday’s quarterfinal. Then it all went dark.

The Pointers picked up just one hit after the first inning and Bryant scored seven unanswered runs to eliminate Van Buren, 7-3.

“Didn’t do much with the bats. We just didn’t come out real well after that first,” Van Buren coach David Loyd said. “Just couldn’t get anything going and push anything across after that.”

The silent bats may not have been as much a problem if there had been an answer for Hayden Lessenberry. The Bryant designated hitter drove in four runs, including a go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth.

Van Buren should never have been put in that position in the first place. The Hornets picked up a couple of extra at-bats when the Pointers threw a ball into the outfield on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Lessenberry plated two runs three batters later.

Lessenberry would have had five RBIs had another Van Buren error in the first inning not disqualified the extra statistic.

“You wish you had played as well as you could. We didn’t,” Loyd said. “But you have to give them credit. They made plays and we made a couple mistakes and it cost us.”

Van Buren started the game in the same manner it finished against Catholic — raking. Caleb Bauman singled, Levi Froud walked and Spencer Rapin brought everyone home on a three-run home run to left field.

Bryant starter Nate Rutherford settled down after that and retired the next 12 batters. He went the distance, striking out four.

Hornets coach Kirk Bock was thrilled with the effort of his pitcher and big-game hitter.

“They did a tremendous job,” he said. “Nate did a great job after that first inning. Left that ball up, walked him and then got in trouble after that. Bounced back. And Hayden is a big game guy. He’s done that all year for us.”

Van Buren’s last best hope came in the fifth, when the game was tied. Taylor Anders reached on a throwing error and took second the same play with one out and Hunter Hogan singled him to third four pitches later. But Bauman grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Bryant, the defending state champion, took the lead on the inning’s turn.

It was a better effort for the Pointers than their last game against Bryant in the playoffs. The two schools met in the championship game three years ago. Bryant pitched a perfect game against a Van Buren team that fielded two future Arkansas Razorbacks in Tyler Spoon and Brandon Moore.

On top of that, Bock is the former Van Buren coach and the two coaches are longtime pals.

“We enjoy playing them. It’s a lot of fun. It meant quite a bit today, so this one didn’t go down very easy. But it’s a fun game to play in,” Loyd said.

7A Quarterfinal

Bryant 7, Van Buren 3

Van Buren 300 000 0 — 3 3 2

Bryant 201 022 X — 7 9 1

Bauman, Anders (1), Ryan (6) and Hogan; Rutherford and Breeding. W — Rutherford. L — Anders. HRs — Van Buren, Rapin

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