Jack Stroth figured he would be asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt when he came to the plate in the seventh inning. Instead, Conway's senior catcher wound up driving in the game winner.
Conway (21-4) rallied twice in the final two innings to earn a spot in the finals.
The two teams were never more than one run apart.
"Great game. Two great teams," Conway coach Noel Boucher said.
And two solid pitching efforts from Wampus Cats senior lefty Jordan Wicks and Mounties' right-hander Mason Griffin.
Wicks was sailing along with a no-hitter through five innings. He finished with a six-hitter and seven strikeouts. Griffin went 5.2 innings, allowing six hits while fanning four.
"Jordan never loses focus. He never gets worried," Stroth said of Wicks. "He's always calm the whole game. That's why I love catching him. He's just awesome."
Griffin gave up four hits in the first two innings, but set down eight consecutive batters during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before a walk and consecutive singles forced Rogers coach Matt Melson to bring in sophomore reliever Matthew Watson.
"(Griffin) had some really tough luck," Melson said. "The first run he gave up was unearned and he ran out of gas there at the end, but he really kept us in it."
Rogers (22-8) trailed 1-0 and had managed only two base runners through the first five innings but sophomore Sal Jacobo -- the Mounties' No. 9 hitter -- ended Wicks' no-hit bid with a double to right field to lead off the sixth.
Senior Jeb Sample followed with a bunt single and junior Brandon Husted tied the game with a single to left. Two batters later, Watson gave Rogers a 2-1 lead with the fourth hit of the inning.
Conway responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Senior James Martindale lined a two-run single to right field to give Conway a 3-2 lead.
"To their credit, once the momentum swung in our favor they got it right back," Melson said. "That was just a really good baseball game between two really good teams."
In the seventh, senior Colin McWhorter lined a lead-off single to left, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a ground ball hit by Jacobo.
Rogers tied the game when Sample's chopper down the first-base line took an unusual hop off first baseman Cade White's right shoulder for a run-scoring single.
Conway needed only five pitches in the bottom of the seventh to pick up the game winner. James Hicks and Parker Gavazzi both reached on first-pi... Click here to read full article
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette