HARRISON – After claiming their first baseball district championship in 16 years earlier this week, the Cotter Warriors are now headed to their first state tournament in seven years after defeating Piggott 15-4 in six innings Friday afternoon in the opening round of the Class 3A Region 3 Tournament on Jack Wiliams Field at the Community First Bank Sports Complex.
With the victory, the Warriors (16-3) earn a berth to the Class 3A State Baseball Tournament next week at Genoa Central. Cotter still has two games left in the regional, however, and will take on Melbourne in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Melbourne defeated Hoxie 15-4 on Friday. Win or lose, Cotter will be back Monday for a state-seeding game.
The Mohawks actually had the first lead in Friday’s game, which began three hours late due to a rain storm earlier in the morning. With two outs, Cotter starter Ryan Roberts walked Tyler Peters before Bret Fuller smacked a home run over the fence in left center to make it 2-0 Piggott.
Cotter, however, got both those runs back in the bottom of the first. Shawn White led off with a walk, and with one out, Roberts was hit by a pitch. White scored on a groundout by Brett Walker, and Roberts came home on a base hit by freshman Landon Martin.
Roberts finally found his groove on the mound and shut down the Mohawks over the next four innings, while the Warriors were able to take the lead and build on it.
White led off the bottom of the third with his second walk of the day, and Colton Neal reached on an error that plated White for a 3-2 lead. Neal scored on a sacrifice fly by Martin, and a two-out single by Dawson Burns scored Roberts to make it 5-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, Cotter sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs on three hits and an error.
Roberts and Walker delivered the inning’s biggest hits with back-to-back triples that accounted for three of the runs before Burns delivered an RBI single and scored on a fielder’s choice to make the count 10-2 in Cotter’s favor.
The Mohawks — silent on offense over four innings — added two runs to their total on three hits and Cotter’s second error of the day in the top of the sixth.
But, the Warriors put the game away in the bottom of the sixth by scoring five more runs on three more hits, including RBI doubles by Neal and Adams.
The Warriors finished the contest with 11 hits as all nine batters had at least one hit or scored at least one run. In fact, eight of the nine scored a run. Neal, Roberts, Walker and Burns had two hits each, while Roberts and White scored three times each and Neal, Burns and Beecher scored twice each.
Roberts went the full six innings on the mound to pick up the victory for the Warriors. He allowed eight hits, four runs — all earned — while striking out 11 and walking four.