If you’re going to go out, you may as well go out with a bang.
Despite scoring 11 runs, with two home runs from Will Hudson, the Arabian Knights baseball team saw its season come to an end Tuesday night as it fell to East Limestone in a shootout, 16-11.
The Knights scored runs in each of the first four innings only to find themselves down 12-11, while the Indians continued to round the bases.
“It was a long, wild, crazy game but I’m real proud of the players and the fight they gave. They’ve fought hard all year long and gave us some great memories,” said coach Chad Hudson.
It was a see-saw battle from the start. Will Hudson’s first homer in the first inning put Arab up 2-0 but the Indians answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
“We took a 6-5 lead in the second but they came in and scored four,” said Chad Hudson. “Will hit another home run in the top of the third that gave us a 10-9 lead but they scored another run in the bottom.”
Hudson, the player, was 4-for-5 with seven RBIs and three runs scored.
“Will had a great night, for sure,” said his dad.
Jon Shepard was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. John Michael Boles was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and Cole Brooks was 2-for-5 with one run scored.
The Knights picked up their final run in the fourth only to see East Limestone answer with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
“We just couldn’t get them out. We really struggled throwing strikes and that’s the name of the game,” Hudson said.
Like any sport, things are called a bit different from game to game and place to place.
“The umpire had a small strike zone but it went both ways. He established that but we struggled with it. We walked a lot of guys and hit a lot of guys,” Hudson said.
Taylor Ferguson, Gavin McBride, Landon Law and Peyton Allen all spent time pitching for the Knights. The park was also a bit smaller than most, and the Indians knew how to put the ball over the fence.
“We still had some chances late but we couldn’t keep up. They brought in a senior left-hander who kept us off balance. We were chasing some pitches and came up a little short,” Hudson said.
The Knights will lose only two seniors, but the coach said they will be missed.
“I was really happy for Peyton Allen and Jordan Hardin tonight. We ran through a lot of pitchers and Peyton came in late and kept us in the game the last couple of innings,” Hudson said.
“He did a nice job. It was great to see him go out on the mound.”
Allen gave up only one hit and one run. Jordan Hardin was 2-for-4 with an RBI and had a big hit in his last at-bat for the Knights.
“Jordan led off the top of the seventh with a double and tried to start a rally,” Hudson said. “It was good to see that, but both those guys have been really steady for us.
“They were a great presence for us and were great leaders. They were really good contributors to the program and we will miss them.”
Disappointed in the moment, the coach knew the Knights had put together a very respectable season at 20-11.
“This time last year we were saying goodbye to nine seniors and basically six starters,” he said. “We had a lot of unknowns for this season but we had a lot of players step up at various times that had some big plays.
“I was really proud of those guys. his year’s team was one of the most fun teams I’ve had the opportunity to coach in 21 seasons as a head coach, but they bought in to what we’re trying to do. They put the team first and worked very hard.”
The coach is well aware that while several young players saw action this season, the experience could mean even better things for the Knights.
“Yes, we’re really excited about next year and the future in general,” he said.
“We know we have an opportunity for a special season next year, but we’ll have to get back to work and keep improving.”