The Mountain Home Bombers busted out of a hitting slump with one of their biggest hits of the year on Tuesday night.
Senior first baseman Sky-Lar Culver slugged a two-out grand slam over the fence in right field to complete a comeback and give the Bombers a 6-4 victory over the Marion Patriots in 7A/6A-East Conference play at Lester White Field at Cooper Park.
The Bombers — now 7-7 overall and 4-5 in league play — had only three hits going into the bottom of the seventh inning and had been one-hit in their previous game against Little Rock Central last week. But, the long ball did its damage as two of the Bombers’ four hits on Tuesday left the yard.
“The whole year we’ve had some adversity in games and we never really shut it down,” Mountain Home head coach Jim Tejcek said. “I’ll be honest, I wondered there, in the fifth and sixth innings, if we were going to shut it down.
“We’ve had some good practices the past couple days, and we’re trying to get our confidence back up at the plate. They haven’t quit all year, and they didn’t tonight.”
Mountain Home’s win makes it 1-0 in a more important category. The triumph over the Patriots is the first game the Bombers have played this season against a 6A opponent, which is what counts toward state tournament seedings.
Marion led by as much as 4-1 when the Bombers scored an unearned run in the sixth. Macllain Edington singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a groundout, stole third and scored when Matt Robbins reached on a dropped fly ball.
Marion starting pitcher Cody Raymond — who had allowed just three hits and struck out six heading into the seventh — began to lose his control, hitting pinch hitter Ryan Pevril in the face with a pitch to lead off the seventh. Pevril’s pinch runner, Landon Crider, took second on a passed ball, and Raymond issued one-out walks to both Ethan Barrow and Edington to load the bases.
Raymond bounced back to record his second strikeout of the inning, but a 2-1 pitch to Culver was lined over the fence in right to hand the Bombers a 6-4 victory.
“He was due,” Tejcek said. “Sky-Lar started the season off real hot. They pitched him really good today. They moved him in and out, and jammed him a few times. He got one there he really liked, and that’s what Sky-Lar is capable of doing. He’s been there. He’s a senior. That’s what I expect out of Sky-Lar.”
Mountain Home will try to gain a sweep of the season series with the Patriots when they travel to Marion on Friday for conference action.
Marion scored a pair in the first inning and added another solo tally in the second.
Nick Alsbrook reached on a dropped third strike, was sacrificed to second, stole third and came across on a throwing error to get the visitors on the board. Raymond then singled, Jon Kent doubled, and Raymond scored on a groundout by Jackson Wiggins.
The Patriots started the second with a base hit by Eric Skipper, who later scored on a groundout by Alsbrook to make it 3-0.
The Bombers showed some life in the bottom of the fourth in the form of a lead-off home run by Cole Anderson, which soared way over the scoreboard in left field. Mountain Home had two more baserunners in the inning but could not score again.
Mason Smith earned the win in relief of Ryan Czanstkowski for the Bombers. Smith did not allow a hit and had two strikeouts over 12/3 innings. Czanstkowski struck out four and scattered seven hits over 51/3 for the Bombers.
For local sports updates, follow Neal Denton on Twitter @BBSportsNeal and Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/BBSportsNeal