HARRISON – The Flippin Bobcats and Cotter Warriors finished first and second, respectively, in the 3A-1 East Conference regular season, and the two clubs now will meet Monday night in the district baseball tournament championship after each posted victories in the semifinals Saturday on Pippin Field at the Community First Bank Sports Complex.
The top-seeded Bobcats (15-1) opened Saturday’s action with an 8-2 victory over the fourth-seeded Green Forest Tigers, and the second-seeded Warriors (14-3) followed that up with a 5-0 shutout of the third-seeded Melbourne Bearkatz.
Flippin and Cotter — which had a combined 15-1 mark in league play this season with the Warriors’ 2-1 home setback to the Bobcats on April 17 being the only loss — will battle for the district title at 5 p.m. Monday.
The Warriors had only four hits in the contest, but notched three of those in a big third inning that catapulted them to the 5-0 victory and into today’s championship.
Cotter scored the only run it really needed in the bottom of the second. With two outs Dawson Burns struck out but reached first on a passed ball, advanced to second when Maddux Adams walked, and was able to score on a single by Aron Rowe.
Although the Warriors only needed that run, they were able to add four insurance runs off three hits and two errors in the bottom of the third. Shawn White led off with a single and Colton Neal walked. Ryan Roberts then hit a grounder to Melbourne pitcher Joey Woolsey, who overthrew third base trying to get lead runner White, who scrambled home on the error.
A single by Brett Walker plated Neal before the second error of the inning allowed Roberts to score from third. Another single by Adams plated Walker to make it 5-0.
After that point, only a combined three runners — two by Melbourne and one by Cotter — reached base as the pitchers for both teams held the batters in check.
Roberts pitched a complete game to get the win for Cotter. He allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking just one. Woolsey was Melbourne’s starter but was pulled in the third after giving up the hit to Adams.
Jay Chaney came off the bench for the Bearkatz to pitch the rest of the way. Woolsey and Chaney combined to strike out 12 Cotter batters. Chaney sturck out eight of the last nine batters he faced.
All four of Cotter’s hits were singles, one each from White, Walker, Adams and Rowe.
Green Forest 2
The Bobcats actually trailed twice, but scored a combined seven runs over the third, fourth and fifth innings to put it out of the Tigers’ reach.
Green Forest got on the board first when Caleb Lucas began the contest with a walk and scampered home on a two-out double by David Nelson.
Flippin answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the first as Jacob Leonard singled with one out and came home on a single by Dean Smyser.
The Tigers gained a 2-1 edge in the top of the third when Gavin Nelson was hit by a pitch from Flippin starter Tanner Theobald, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
However, the Bobcats took the lead for good in the bottom of the third by scoring three runs on two hits, plus some help from Nelson, Green Forest’s starting pitcher. There were two outs on the board after Brenton Butcher reached on a fielder’s choice, but Smyser was hit by a pitch and Landry Kopacz walked to load the bases.
Austin Lack was also hit by a pitch to force Butcher home before McKane Curtis delivered a two-run single to put the Bobcats up 4-2.
Spencer Politte led off the bottom of the fourth with a double and later scored on an error. Leonard then reached on his third straight single and later scored on a single to right by Smyser to make it 6-2.
The Bobcats wrapped up their scoring in the bottom of the fifth when Lack led off by reaching on an error and Curtis walked. After two pop-ups, Politte singled home Lack and Justin Haney, Curtis’ courtesy runner, scored on a wild pitch.
Flippin finished with nine hits in the contest, eight of which were singles. Leonard and Smyser had three singles each, while Politte finished with two hits, including the team’s lone double.
Theobald got the victory, going six full innings on the mound and was pulled after walking the first two batters of the seventh. He allowed just two hits while striking out eight and walking five. Kopacz relieved him in the seventh and got the final three outs.