Conway locked up, and Russellville locked down the 7A-Central lead. Russellville whisked away from Wampus Cat Field Friday night with 6-2 victory over Conway.
The Cyclones (7-1) looked and played smaller than the mid-1990s power teams Russellville is renowned for; however the essentials were the similar: key critical pitch placement and game-changing innings, efficient down to one hit as the difference, a three-run homer. Conway fell to 11-7 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
"The three-run homer’s the difference," Conway coch Noel Boucher said. "That and a baserunning error. We were a little bit overaggressive there."
Conway had a hit in six of seven innings but grounded into a double play, left eight runners stranded, terminated three runners by force outs, and lost one runner to catcher Hayden Hipps’ pickoff play and another on a tag at third base.
"We hit the ball pretty well," Boucher said. "We hit a lot of balls they fielded. That’s baseball. It’s a different game if you take away a baserunning mistake, a whole different game."
Russellville’s Cody Jones, who struck out two, pitched six innings to earn the win. Mike Cowles relieved him in the seventh.
"I liked our approach at the plate," Boucher said. "That guy’s been getting 10 or 15 strikeouts a game."
Conway’s Hayden Strickland was effective through three innings, holding Russellville to a 1-1 tie. Connor Prout tossed two scoreless innings of relief.
Conway started its conference season with a loss to Russellville. The
Wampus Cats play back-to-back conference games Thursday and Friday next week.
"(The season) is a long way from being over," Boucher said. "We have what we have. We aren’t unhappy with what we have."
Frank Chilino doubled and scored on Derek Berginske’s single in the first inning, putting the Cyclones ahead 1-0. Conway responded in the lower half with a run by Jacob Adams on Colin Fluesmeier’s single.
Fluesmeier was picked off with runners at second and third, ending the inning.
Russellville took the lead 3-1 on Eric Turner’s single and James
Reasoner’s sacrifice in the fourth.
Conway countered with a solo home run by Cody Russell in the same inning, but the Wampus Cats wouldn’t get any closer.
"(Russell’s) been coming along, squaring up a little," Boucher said.
Birginske skied a three-run homer in the fifth to open the Cyclone lead to 6-2.