Billies outmanned by 2013 champions at 4A South regional

STAR CITY—Needing just one win to advance to the Class 4A State Baseball Championships, Monticello unfortunately was matched against the wrong team to do that the opening round of the 4A South Regional Tournament here Friday—defending 4A champion Arkadelphia.

<span>Scoring in every inning but the sixth, the Badgers rolled to an 11-1 run-rule win over the youthful Billies. Monticello helped Arkadelphia along the way by committing six errors.</span>

<span>“When you have that many errors and don’t string enough hits together, that happens to you,” a disappointed Monticello baseball coach Jim Beasley said after he addressed his team following the game. “You can’t give your opponents anything, I don’t care if it’s T-ball or anything else. I hate it for Cooper (Williams, a senior who started on the mound for the Billies). </span>

<span>“Coop pitched a great game. That’s what I told the guys after the game—this ain’t the first time I’ve seen this movie. This happened all year with us. We had opportunities; we just didn’t capitalize on them—and we gave (our opponents) too many opportunities.”</span>

<span>Playing the first game of the regional tournament at 10 a.m., Monticello, which was the fourth regional seed from 4A, District 8 and finished the year at 13-11, held the powerful Badgers in check until the third inning. Down only 2-0 at that point, the Billies committed the first of their half dozen miscues to allow Arkadelphia leadoff hitter Ty Kosters to reach first. The Badgers’ stellar pitcher, John Franklin Matros, then reached with a walk.</span>

<span>After one out, another Monticello error on a grounder off the bat of Austin White allowed Kosters to come around with the 4A-7 top seed’s third run of the morning. Cutter Jester followed with a two-run double and Arkadelphia had assumed command.</span>

<span>After adding another run in the fourth, the defending state champions put the game away with a five-run sixth, scoring those five runs on only two hits—and two more Monticello errors. Most of the Billies’ misplays were made by young players with no postseason experience but Beasley wasn’t buying that as a reason for the lopsided loss. </span>

<span>“I’m not big on excuses,” the Monticello coach said. “That’s just something you use when you lose. If we had been winning, nobody would have said anything about it. Look at Star City. (Bulldog coach Scott Johnson’s) got a team of sophomores—and he’s winning (although Nashville downed the regional tournament hosts 6-2 in Friday’s first round). We just didn’t get it done. I hope they’ll learn.</span>

<span>“Halfway through the year, I’m thinking we’re supposed to be solidified. We’re supposed to have starting guys. But we weren’t. We were still looking for people to fill positions at the end of the year. And that does not bode well; that’s not they way we want to do it.  </span>

<span>“We’ve tried plugging in different people at different positions. We just couldn’t get guys to step up and take care of business. Maybe some of it is that youth—but at the end of the season, we’re no longer young. Guys have to step up and do their jobs. At this point, you either get out there and get it done, or you don’t. That’s what happened to us but it’s been like that all year.”</span>

<span>The Billies couldn’t figure out Matros until the Badger right hander tired somewhat in the top of the sixth. With one out, junior Grant Jeffers and senior Eamon Borse drew back-to-back walks.</span>

<span>On a ball hit back to Matros by sophomore Seth Fair that the Arkadelphia hurler threw away at second base trying for an inning-ending double play, Jeffers scored Monticello’s lone regional run. A ground ball to short following the error, though, did turn into a rally-killing double play. </span>

<span>“I’m going to miss the seniors,” Beasley said of Williams, Borse, Tucker Ward, Cody Pigott, Chris Kelley and Jay Kent Gates. “They’re a great group. They’ve understood what it took and they’ve worked their butts off. I’m really going to miss those guys; I can promise you that. I hate that we lost more for them than I do anybody.”</span>

<span>Other first-round scores Friday were 4A-8 runner-up Hamburg 14, Central Arkansas Christian 6 and Ashdown 10-0 over Crossett. Saturday’s semifinals were just for seeding purposes, as all four teams qualified for the upcoming 4A Stste Baseball Championships in Nashville.</span>

<span>Arkadelphia beat Hamburg 7-1 and Ashdown slipped past Nashville 5-4 in Saturday’s semifinals. The Badgers earned their second run-rule win of the regional with a 14-4 thumping of Ashdown in Monday’s regional championship contest. Hamburg beat Nashville 4-3 on Monday for third place.</span>

<strong>Monticello       000  001  —  1  5  6</strong>

<span><strong>Arkadelphia   113  105  —  11  10  1</strong></span>

<span><strong>Note:</strong> 2 outs, 2 runners LOB when game ended because of 10-run lead rule.</span>

<span>Cooper Williams, Blake Holstead (6) and Payton Merrell;  John Franklin Matros and Austin White. WP: Matros. LP: Williams.</span>

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