It took a day longer than most Mountain Home fans had wished, but Lockeroom head coach Lester White garnered his 900th career victory Saturday night.
Lockeroom overcame a 4-0 deficit with eight straight runs and ran to an 11-6 victory over the Batesville Highwaymen in the loser’s bracket of the Zone 2 Senior American Legion District Tournament at Cooper Park.
Lockeroom (25-12) advances to face Paragould at 4 p.m. Sunday, while Batesville sees its season come to an end with the loss.
“I appreciate all the support,” said White, who in lieu of a Gatorade bath, received pies in the face after the game ended. “It’s great because these young men work hard, and this is what it’s about right here. It’s kind of a load off of our backs, so now we can just go play. We just have to come out and get focused and not shoot ourselves in the foot.”
After facing the early deficit, Mountain Home scored once in the top of the fourth, and it knotted the score with three in the fifth. Marshall Roberson collected a one-out single, Sky-Lar Culver drew a two-out walk, and Hayden Hall singled home Roberson to make it 4-2.
Lockeroom starting pitcher Brody Ninemire followed with the big blow, helping himself with a two-run double down the left-field line to knot things up at 4-4.
Mountain Home kept the momentum going with four runs on four hits in the top of the sixth. Kyle Stephens doubled down the left-field line and scored the go-ahead run on a base hit by Luke Kruse.
Ryan Czanstkowski drew a walk, Roberson bunted both runners over a base, and Culver delivered a two-out double off the fence in center field to plate two runs. Hall followed with a base hit that scored Culver for the 8-4 lead.
Batesville scored two more in the bottom of the sixth — one on a Lockeroom error and another on a wild pitch — to pull within 8-6.
It was the Highwaymen who were bitten by the error bug in the seventh as Lockeroom scored once on three Batesville errors. Hall scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a walk in the eighth inning to push Lockeroom’s lead to 10-6.
Lockeroom scored once more in the ninth as Czanstkowski crossed on a double by Roberson.
“We’ll go with (pitcher) Ryan (Czanstkowski) tomorrow in the first game, and go from there and see what happens,” White said of Sunday’s first of two possible games. “We’ll play them one game at a time. We’ve been there before: survive and advance.”
Ninemire earned the win, going six innings with five strikeouts. The right-hander allowed six runs — just one earned — on five hits and three walks. Hall pitched a hitless final three innings, striking out six batters.
Joey Woolsey took the loss for Batesville, scattering eight hits over 52/3 innings.
Roberson was 3 for 4 with an RBI from the lead-off spot, while Hall went 2 for 4 with two RBIs to lead Lockeroom at the plate.
Batesville scored four on a pair of Lockeroom errors in the bottom of the third to get started. Levi Horn reached on a dropped fly ball, Tyson Durham singled up the middle, Tristan Tate drove home Horn with a groundout and Clay Harris singled home Durham to make it 2-0.
Chipper Lamb kept the two-out rally going with a base hit, and both Lamb and Harris came home on a ball hit to deep left field by Wil Freiert to make it 4-0.
Ninemire walked and later scored on a groundout by Stephens to get the hosts on the board in the top of the fourth.
Paragould 9, 16 in.
Jonesboro’s Dillon Groves drew a walk in the bottom of the 16th inning and came home on a hit in the right-center field gap by Kollin Stone to score the winning run in a winner’s bracket game.
Each team’s starting pitcher did not last very long, and each received phenomenal relief efforts.
The Ricemen had two different pitchers throw 90 or more pitches – and both were relievers. Jonesboro’s Grant Johnson threw 124 pitches over nine innings in relief of starter Kollin Stone, while teammate Nash Thomas earned the win, tossing 90 pitches over six innings.
Paragould’s Layne Ditto tossed 136 pitches over 12 frames – which is the American Legion three-day limit for pitchers – after taking over for starter Ty Gordon with no outs in the third. Drew Mullins took the loss for Glen Sain GMC, pitching the final two innings.
With the score tied 8-8, Groves reached on a dropped fly ball to lead off the bottom of the ninth, but Ditto responded with three straight outs – two of them via strikeout – to send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the 12th, Paragould’s Logan Reddick reached on a fielder’s choice, moved up on a hit by Christian Deen and scored the go-ahead run on a base hit by Ditto, making it 9-8.
Jonesboro’s Trey Hall doubled to dead center field to lead off the bottom of the 12th, and his pinch runner, Gavin Stone, was bunted to third base. With two outs, Tucker Colbert tied the score again with a double to left-center field, bringing home Stone.
Gavin Stone took two bases on an error to lead off the Jonesboro 14th inning and was bunted to third, but was tagged out at the plate on a fielder’s choice.
Reddick singled to lead off the Paragould 16th, stole second and took third on an error with no outs. Jonesboro elected to intentionally walk Deen with one out, though, and got the double play ball it was looking for, escaping the threat.
In the bottom of the 16th, Groves drew a one-out walk, and Kollin Stone, who had started the game on the mound for Jonesboro, came through with a double to score the winning run.
Jonesboro (27-10) advances to meet Blytheville in the winner’s bracket final at 1 p.m. Sunday, while Paragould falls into the loser’s bracket.