Mustangs bow to Walnut Ridge in District finals

Friday, April 30, 2004

Buffalo Island Central split a pair of games in the 3AA-North District Tournament this past week at Rector. The Mustangs rolled to a 14-4 six-inning victory over Marmaduke in the semifinals before dropping a tough 8-6 decision to Walnut Ridge in the finals.

The Bobcats used a seven-run third inning, highlighted by a two-run homer from catcher Kai Rorex, in helping Walnut Ridge overcome an early 5-1 deficit to pull out the victory.

BIC jumped out on top in the first inning, scoring three times, then added two more runs in the third to take a 5-1 lead before the Bobcats rallied to take an 8-5 advantage that the Mustangs could not overcome.

BIC, which fell to 21-8 on the year, was led by Josh Shepard's three hits, which included a double, two singles, and two runs scored. However, Shepard was forced to leave the game in the third inning, after injuring his back while sliding into second base. BIC coach Todd Rhoades said Shepard appeared to have broken a vertebra in his back and will be lost for the remainder of the season.

Brett Sexton hammered his ninth home run of the year, a two-run shot, while driving in three runs on the day. Sexton also doubled and scored a pair of runs. Preston Despain had an RBI single and scored a run, while Jonas Rose singled and also scored a run. Derek Rolland rounded out the BIC attack with a single.

Shepard worked three innings in suffering the loss, giving up eight runs, five of which were unearned. Shepard surrendered seven hits while striking out five and walking two. Derek Rolland pitched a scoreless three innings in relief for the Ponies, allowing only one hit while striking out five and walking just one.

"We just couldn't get the big hits when we needed to," Rhoades said. "We had two golden opportunities. Early in the game we had runners at second and third with one out and didn't score, and in the seventh inning we loaded the bases with no outs, and failed to score again. You can't beat good teams doing that. It was just one of those days," concluded Rhoades.

In the semifinal game against Marmaduke, Brandon Ballard pitched and hit the Mustangs to a 14-4 thrashing of the Greyhounds. Ballard picked up the win, allowing only two earned runs on seven hits. Ballard struck out 11 while walking only one. Ballard also came up big at the plate, crashing a three-run homer while having a four-RBI game.

Jonas Rose went 2-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Mark Hawkins had two hits, stole three bases, drove in two runs and scored twice. Preston Despain scored three runs while Josh Shepard had two hits and two runs scored. Chris Deeds rounded out the Mustang attack with a pair of base hits.

BIC will host the regional tournament this week at Monette. The Mustangs will be the number two seed from the 3AA-North, and will face the third seeded team from the 3AA-South, the Cross County Thunderbirds, in a 2:30 matchup Monday afternoon.

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