With the bases loaded in the eighth, Harding Academy’s Rayel Jackson delivered a walkoff single to give the Wildcats a 9-8 victory over Mayflower in the Region 3-2 baseball title game at Benton Harmony Grove High School.
Earlier in the day Monday, Mayflower (25-4) defeated Bald Knob, 5-0, to gain the finals.
The Wildcats took advantage of an error and an RBI double by Griffin Metheny to tie the game at 8 in the bottom of the seventh.
A leadoff walk put the winning run on first for Harding Academy, the defending 3A state champion, in the bottom of the eighth. J. Paul Fullerton stole second and took third on a sacrifice bunt. Mayflower’s Drew Duncan intentionally walked two batters to load the bases with one out, setting the stage for Jackson’s hit.
Justin Sewell doubled for Mayflower in the seventh but the Eagles couldn’t get the run across.
Mayflower Coach Joe Allbritton said, "This is a tough one to lose but Harding is a good team that is well-coached. We made a couple of mistakes and you can’t do that against that caliber team. We head to state now and it’s a new season."
Mayflower scored in the first on a hit batsman and an error. With the scored tie at 1, Mayflower took a 3-1 lead in the second on RBI from Christian Moore and Michael Post.
The Eagles took a 5-2 lead in the third on hits by Duncan and Trey Bradley and an RBI by Tyler Godwin.
Both teams would push a run across in the fourth to give Mayflower a 6-3 lead.
The Eagles scored again in the fifth on a double by Duncan and a wild pitch but Harding would answer again in the bottom half to make it a 7-4 Eagle lead.
Post connected with an RBI single after a Wildcat error to give the Eagles what seemed to be a comfortable 8-4 lead. The Wildcats loaded the bases in the sixth on two singles and a walk. They closed to 8-7 with a base-clearing double to close the gap to 8-7.
Duncan and Garrett Taylor had two hits each. Duncan (6-1) took the loss for the Eagles.
The Eagles will open state play against Fordyce, the team that eliminated them last year, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Harrison.
Against Bald Knob the Eagles scored in the first on singles by Post and Bradley and an error. They added two more in the fifth on a hit from Duncan, an RBI double by Tyler Herrin and a single by Bradley. Singles by Post and Duncan in the sixth pushed the lead to 5-0.
Post 3 for 3 and Duncan and Bradley ha two hits each. Sewell (4-1) recorded the complete game shutout win as he struck out eight, allowing only four hits.
ST. JOSEPH BASEBALL
In a 2A regional at Bigelow, St. Joseph’s baseball team powered to a 12-0 victory over Magazine in the semifinals.
Nash Nichols allowed two hits and struck out five over five innings.
Nichols was 3 for 3 with a double, two runs and an RBI. Taylor Schrekenhofer was 2 for 2 with two RBI. Owen Echols was 2 for 3 with two RBI.