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Prep Baseball: Alma tops Grizzlies

Brian Fry and Kevin Edwards took the same approach with their teams on Monday. Both wanted one final tune-up before win-or-stay-home conference games later this week.

Alma’s three-run first inning was all Edwards’ team needed against Fry’s Northside bunch, 5-1, in Monday’s final nonconference game for both.

The postseason fates for both teams await in doubleheaders later this week.

The Grizzlies were originally supposed to play Southside today, but it was moved to Wednesday. Northside also had its season finale scheduled against Little Rock Hall on Friday, but moved it to Wednesday to beat the expected rain late in the week. If Northside wins both, they’ll qualify for the 7A State Tournament. It’s possible the Grizzlies could lose one of two, Fry said, and still get in, depending on Cabot’s outcome in a doubleheader against Searcy.

Northside is still playing to win both, anyway, he said.

“Bottom line is we have to win games,” Fry said. “If we come out and play like we’re capable of, we’ll see what happens.”

The Airedales have a final series against Shiloh Christian, a doubleheader, in Springdale on Friday. If they win both games, they’ll match the Saints in the standings and qualify for the 5A State Tournament by owning the tiebreaker.

“One conference series left and everybody knows what we have to do,” Edwards said. “And we just tell the kids to use this as a springboard into the doubleheader Friday.”

If the Airedales play defense like they did Monday, the odds of that happening are solid. Three times shortstop Judah Dean ended Northside rally attempts.

He scooped a choppy grounder to get Evan Rollans to end the first inning after Northside had already scored a run. He went deep in the hole to his right and gunned out Northside lead-off hitter Grant Hood in the fifth. And in between, he had his best effort yet.

Ty Knight had singled to start the third and Jacob Northrop walked behind him to give the Grizzlies two runners, no outs and the cleanup hitter, Will Klek, at the plate. Klek socked a hard liner to Dean’s left which the shortstop snagged. Already running that direction, Dean stepped on the bag at second to double-up Knight and delivered a hard throw back to first base to get Northrop for a triple play.

Fry could only shake his head.

“Hard as (Klek) could hit it, just as hard as he could hit it and the triple play right there,” Fry said. “They played some defense today and I told the guys you can’t be disappointed in that at all. You hit the ball that hard and they’re making plays, tip your cap to them.”

Dean scored Alma’s second run when he came in behind Adam Wilbanks on Alex Burris’ two-run double down the leftfield line in the bottom of the first. Burris would score on Dylan Ross’ sacrifice fly later in the inning and it looked like Alma would win a blowout.

Andrew Rideout took over for Northside starter Tristen Wolfe to start the second and limited the damage. Rideout allowed just two more runs the rest of the way.

The foot off the gas had Edwards worried for a while.

“That’s one thing we’ve done sometimes this year and it’s come back to haunt us,” Edwards said. “We did that with Southside. Jumped out, got the early lead on them, then they came back, tied it up and won it in extra innings. That’s just something these kids have got to battle through.”

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