It was a non-conference game Wednesday afternoon at Bay when the Yellowjackets played host to the Buffalo Island Central Mustangs, but both coaches played it as if it was for the league championship as each team sent our their ace pitcher on a chilly afternoon.
Bay's Davey Webb hooked up against the BIC's Brandon Ballard and neither pitcher disappointed, but when the dust settled, the Mustangs came away with a 3-0 victory, sending Bay to their second consecutive loss.
Ballard set down the first 10 Bay batters before Robby Bollinger cracked a one-out single in the fourth inning, but clean up hitter Brett Hogan grounded into an inning ending double play that took the air out of the Jackets and propelled the Mustangs to their 12th victory of the year.
BIC jumped on Webb in the first inning when Brooks Taylor doubled to right center and came around to score on an error to give BIC a 1-0 lead.
The Mustangs pushed across another run in the third inning when Chris Deeds lashed a double into the leftfield corner to score Ballard, making it a 2-0 game.
In the top of the fourth inning, Mark Hawkins gave BIC their final run with an RBI double, which was more than enough cushion for Ballard, who allowed only two hits in the game.
"We looked like our old selves," said first-year coach Todd Rhoades. "Ballard threw his third straight good game, and we have been getting real good pitching and outstanding defense along with timely hitting. We're just playing real good ball right now," added Rhoades.
The Yellowjackets had a chance to make some noise in the sixth inning as Sye Barnett walked and then advanced to third on an error, but Ballard ended the threat by striking out Robby Bollinger to end the inning.
Ballard went the distance, pitching a two-hitter, while walking only one batter and striking out four.
Davey Webb also pitched a complete game for the Jackets, giving up just five hits while striking out 11 Mustangs. However, he walked five and hit two batters.
"Anytime you beat a quality pitcher like Davey Webb, it's a good day." said Rhoades.
"We kept hitting the ball all day, but it was always right at somebody," said Bay coach Brandon Craig. "We made a couple of costly errors and just didn't play well enough to win. If you can't score, you can't win," concluded a disappointed Craig.
Bay's only other hit of the game came in the fifth inning when Webb doubled to deep left field but was left stranded.
Bay dropped to 10-4 on the year as they continually hit into bad luck, while the 11-6 Mustangs picked up timely hitting which proved to be the difference in the game.
The Mustangs started the week on a sour note Monday at Monette as Marmaduke's Bruce Wallace threw a complete game and smashed a two-run homer to lift the Greyhounds to a 6-5 conference win over the Ponies. Wallace, 3-1, gave up just three hits while fanning six Mustangs as the Greyhounds improved to 3-6 overall and 2-1 in the 3AA North Conference.
BIC was led at the plate by Chris Deeds, who smashed a solo home run in the second inning, and Brooks Taylor who doubled in the fifth.
BIC bounced back Thursday as Chris Deeds knocked in the game winning run with an RBI single in the sixth inning to lift the Ponies to a 2-1 conference win at Rector.
The sixth inning rally started when Mark Hawkins doubled and later scored on a Brandon Ballard RBI bunt that turned into a hit. That set the stage for Deeds' heroics as the Mustangs picked up their 12th win of the year.
Derek Rolland worked seven innings, allowing only two singles while striking out seven batters, while also going 2-2 at the plate to help his own cause as the Mustangs improved to 3-2 in league play.
On Saturday, BIC closed out the week with an 11-1 thrashing of the Valley View Blazers in non-conference action.
Josh Shepard, seeing his first action of the season, threw a one-hitter while striking out six and giving up one unearned run to gain his first victory of the season and improve BIC's record to 13-6 overall.
Preston Despain led the hit parade for the Ponies, going 3-3 including two doubles and three RBIs. Derek Rolland smashed a double to drive in two runs while Jonas Rose had a two-run single and Brooks Taylor knocked in two runs and stole a base.
Valley View's only hit of the game came in the fourth inning when Dustin Osment broke up Shepard's perfect game with a double and then came around to score the Blazers' only run of the game on an error.
The loss dropped the Blazers to 10-5 on the year.
The Mustangs will hit the road this week for two conference games. On Tuesday BIC travels to Paragould to play Crowley's Ridge Academy before hitting the road Thursday for a rematch against the Marmaduke Greyhounds as the Mustangs try to avenge their only loss from last week.
BIC will then gear up for the county tournament, facing Valley View at 2:30 at Caraway in first-round tournament action.