Arab baseball

Reliever Hayden Turner and catcher Weslee Staton celebrate after Turner closed out a win last week.

Arab’s baseball players were having a good night at the office last Thursday against Boaz. For the most part, things were on cruise control as the Knights built up an 8-1 lead going into the seventh and final inning.

Dakota NeSmith had an early two-run homer, Landon Law had an RBI single in the fifth and Brody Bradshaw and Sam Jackson added RBI singles in the sixth. 

“The first six innings were the best we’ve played,” said coach Chad Hudson.

But the top of the seventh got a little scary. Back-to-back errors put the first two Pirate batters on base, the next one walked, the next took a base after getting hit by a pitch and all that was followed by an RBI single.

Luckily, things calmed down and Arab was able to get the 8-4 win and even its record at 3-3. Even the first six innings were not without anxious moments.

“Tyler Benson has got a good fastball,” Hudson said. “He’s got a really good mid-80s arm. That’s enough to overpower a lot of hitters and that’s exactly what he did.

“But his breaking ball wasn’t very good and he walked way too many guys. He only got four innings in because the pitch count got so high. He reminded me of watching Will (Hudson) over the years strike out a lot of guys but walk too many and get himself in trouble.

“But, Tyler showed a lot of heart and pitched himself out of some jams. Then Hayden (Turner) came in and he’s so confident on the mound. He had two quick innings with some good defense behind him.

“Then we had a few good hits from our guys in the sixth to give ourselves some breathing room and we relaxed. We had two critical errors that let them get back in it. But, no question, the first six innings is the kind of team we hope we can be and hopefully we can build on that.”

Benson got the win and Turner the save, with four strikeouts in three innings. Benson finished with nine strikeouts.

Bradshaw scored two runs, as did John Ray Wilks, who had a hit and an RBI.

The junior high team also defeated Boaz, 6-0 and 13-3

• Cullman 11, Arab 5

“It’s the same story. If we don’t start playing better defense it could be a long season,” Hudson said after his team lost at Cullman on Saturday.

“It’s all fixable,” he added, “so we’re going to hope we improve fast.”

Things were nearly even at the plate where the Bearcats picked up eight hits compared to Arab’s seven. But the Knights committed eight errors.

“Some of those errors were really bad, too,” said Hudson. “What’s sad is Gavin McBride really had a great comeback day. He attacked the zone and pitched really well for us. He looked healthy and ready to anchor our pitching staff like we expected him to.

“We just played poor defense behind him.”

It was McBride’s first start of the season after “a little preseason arm trouble” sidelined him to occasional DH duty to begin the year. But, Knight pitchers didn’t help their case either as three of the errors came from the mound.

Still, Arab was facing a good team.

“Cullman is kind of the benchmark for high school baseball in this area and they’ve certainly earned that,” said Hudson. “You have to give them credit. They’re one the best if not the best team we’ll play all year.”

Jackson and Turner both had two hits on the day that helped give Arab a 5-4 lead in the fourth.

“We definitely had some encouraging moments,” said Hudson. “We had some big hits with runners on base and did some good things.

“The errors just killed us down the stretch.”

The JV team also lost to Cullman, 11-2.

• Guntersville 5, Arab 4

The outcome was painfully similar but the scenario was entirely different. For the second time this year, Arab lost a game in extra innings by falling to Guntersville 5-4 in nine innings. With Tuesday’s game moved to the synthetic field at Albertville due to expected rain, the atmosphere was decidedly different.

Sam Jackson apparently loved it.

“Sam was the story of the game for us,” said Hudson. “He was throwing the ball really good.”

The Knights went into the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead.

“Sam was pitching well and the pitch count was not too high so we thought we’d give him a chance to get one more inning,” said Hudson.

Didn’t happen. An error to start the inning snowballed and the Knights had to go to the bullpen. Guntersville picked up two hits and a 3-1 lead. The Knights were able to get a couple of hits themselves and take advantage of a few walks to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the inning.

But, the Wildcats picked up a seventh inning run on four straight walks to tie the game.

Arab had six hitst, but none came in the final three innings. No one had multiple hits, either.

“We didn’t answer. We swung the bat very poorly today and it resulted in a very disappointing game for us,” said Hudson.

Arab (3-5) will play at Guntersville today.

The day was not a total loss for the Knights as the junior varsity defeated Guntersville 3-2 and the Junior High Knights won twice, 11-0 and 5-0.

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