The outcomes were the same, but getting there was entirely different for the Arab baseball team on Saturday.
“Two good wins for sure,” said coach Chad Hudson. “Both game were tense with pressure moments that help get you ready for area and playoff games down the road.”
• Arab 4, Athens 3
The Knights wasted no time in putting runs on the board, going up 3-0 in the first inning on a Dakota NeSmith home run and a Sam Jackson sacrifice fly.
But the Golden Eagles adjusted.
“They made a pitching change and we struggled from that point on,” Hudson said.
The good news was Arab was answering, too.
“Dakota was throwing really, really well, but we made a couple of key errors that allowed them to tie the game,” he said.
Tyler Benson came on in relief for the Knights, and also got compliments from the coach. But, the game was still deadlocked until the last inning and fortunately for the Knights, they were on top of their game.
“They scorched the ball to Hayden Turner and he made a nice double play,” said Hudson.
Still, Arab needed a score, and it finally came with a little luck.
“We got fortunate in the bottom of the inning. There were two outs and a couple of their players collided in the outfield on a fly ball and that allowed us to get in the game-winning run,” said Hudson.
• Arab 4, Priceville 3
The second win of the day was a bit more methodical, but still came with late-game heroics.
Arab picked up single runs in four different innings but needed some help on the mound.
“We had to go to the bullpen much earlier than we typically would, but it worked out,” said Hudson. “We went with Hayden Turner in the third inning and he went the rest of the way.
“Hayden was outstanding today.”
Turner put the game away in style.
“There were two outs in the bottom of the seventh and he picked off a runner at first base to end the game,” Hudson said.
It was the second Saturday in a row that the Knights were victorious in both games, pushing their season record to 9-6 headed into their spring break trip to Tennessee.
The Plainview game, scheduled for Monday, was canceled because of rain.
• Arab 4, Albertville 3
Two days earlier at Albertville, the Knights avenged an earlier loss to the Aggies with a stellar performance on the mound. Arab won 4-3, apparently establishing a score trend for the week.
“Gavin McBride was the absolute story of the game,” said Hudson.
McBride went all the way and had 10 strikeouts.
“All three runs were unearned, too,” Hudson added. “He was just outstanding today.”
That’s not to say McBride didn’t have some major help. NeSmith came through big with back-to-back two-out hits that put runs on the board for Arab. With the Knights down 3-0 in the fifth, NeSmith was able to send two runners home and that was followed by a hit from fellow sophomore Weslee Staton that tied the game.
In the top of the seventh with a runner at third and two outs, NeSmith answered again to put the Knights up by one.
But McBride wasn’t done, either. In the bottom of the seventh, a passed ball on a strikeout put one man on base. He was able to work his way around to third with one out.
“After that, Gavin pitched out of a bases-loaded situation,” said Hudson. “With Gavin having a big day and rallying the way we did, it was a good win, that’s for sure.”
The Arab JV fell to the Aggies, 5-1.