NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Central Baptist College baseball coach Aaron Brister saw a pinch-hitter come through in the clutch Monday night.
The Mustangs (22-22) defeat Crowley’s Ridge College (13-33), 11-6, but the outcome at Dickey-Stephens Park was not as important as the game being played at all.
For months, CBC was supposed to play Harding University in the special game at the AA professional park that was heavily promoted among alumni and friends. Last week, however, Harding had to back out at the last minute because the Bisons had to play a makeup Great American Conference doubleheader against Arkansas-Monticello on Monday.
Brister turned to a former college coach, Paul McFadden, who is now the athletic director at Crowley’s Ridge.
"I told him we needed help; we needed an opponent," Brister said. "We had a sponsor (First Security Bank) and everything. He got with Brendan Camp, their baseball coach, and they rescheduled a JV game to play this one."
Crowley’s Ridge returned the favor for what CBC did last year.
"Last year, they had a Senior Weekend planned but, because of rain, they hadn’t been able to play a game on their home field during the regular season," Brister said. "We agreed to go up there (Paragould) and play so they could have a Senior Weekend."
Brister has two alma maters, Harding and Crowley’s Ridge.
"I was looking forward to going against one school (Harding) in which I’m an alumni, then another one of my alma maters comes through," Brister said. "I’m very appreciative of that. Crowley’s Ridge College means a lot of me. My wife and I were once ‘Mr. and Miss Crowley’s Ridge’ at the college."
The Mustangs and the Pioneers were playing for the fifth time. They normally play home-and-h0me doubleheaders against each other. Previously, CBC had won in a mixed bag of games, 13-2, 5-4, 7-5 and 25-1.
Monday’s game kind of split the difference. It was back and forth and tied at 6 before the Mustangs broke it open with two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth. They got strong relief efforts from Jose Delmar and Conway’s Dylan Crossley, who struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth.
L’Donta Howard broke the 6-6 tie with an RBI double in the gap n left center that press box radar recorded the ball going 100 miles at hour heading to the outfield. Ben Madison added an RBI single. Two errors and an RBI single by Monterio May added to the cushion in the eighth.
"It was a good mid-week game," said Brister. "It was fun. It’s a great experience for the players to play here and I think the fans got what they wanted with 17 runs and 27 hits combined."
The Mustangs return to American Midwest Conference action this weekend with a three-game series against Williams Baptist at Walnut Ridge. They need to win one of three games to clinch a spot in the AMC tournament. Regardless, CBC should be in postseason because of a No. 5 ranking in the National Christian College Athletic Association, with which the Mustangs are also aligned.
"We starting to get hot and that’s when you want to get hot, at the end of the year," Brister said.