Greenland spoils Riverside's run to state finals

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Rebel senior Larry Tilley is swarmed by his teammates after blasting a two-run homer in Riverside's 12-2 win over Mayflower in 3A State Tournament play Friday at Harrison. 

Riverside watched its first-round state tournament game get washed out Thursday afternoon at Harrison, but the Rebels responded on Friday by blasting Mayflower 12-2 behind the superlative pitching performance of senior ace Gavin Stone. The Rebels rode another sparkling pitching gem on Saturday against Genoa Central in the quarterfinals, this time by southpaw Charlie McClure, who hurled Riverside to a 5-1 victory over the Dragons. Riverside’s run at a state finals berth at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville ended late Saturday afternoon when Greenland dashed the Rebels’ title hopes, handing Riverside a 9-6 defeat.

Riverside was its own worst enemy against the Pirates in Saturday’s semifinal matchup. The Rebels committed four errors as Greenland scored five unearned runs on the day. Riverside scored first on Preston Nichols’ RBI grounder in the top of the second. In the bottom of the second with a Pirate runner at first and one out, the Rebels had a chance to end the inning with a double play, but Izzy Garcia’s throw to Stone at second sailed wide, and both runners were safe. The Pirates took advantage when Austin Anderson drilled a two-run single into centerfield, putting Greenland on top 2-1.

Greenland scored two more runs in the bottom of the third with the help of another error, and tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth to gain a seemingly safe 6-1 lead. But Riverside battled back when Garcia and Stone began the inning with back to back hits. Larry Tilley followed with a three-run homer deep over the left field fence to put the Rebels back in the game, closing the gap to 6-4.

Rebel hurler Dillon Turner follows through on a pitch during 3A State Tournament action Saturday in Harrison.

Greenland came right back with three runs of their own, aiding by another Rebel miscue, to push their advantage to 9-4 heading into the top of the seventh. Riverside charged back one last time, scoring two runs, and had the bases loaded before Dillon Turner bounced into a force out, ending the game.

Anderson picked up the win for the Pirates, going the distance, allowing six earned runs on 12 hits. Tilley was the tough luck loser, giving up six hits in 4 1/3 innings. Tilley gave up five runs, one earned, while striking out two and walking one batter. Turner pitched the final inning and 2/3, allowing four hits and four runs, three of which were earned.

Tilley capped off his Rebel career going 3-3, including a single, a double, a homerun, three RBI and two runs scored. Tilley’s blast marked his sixth home run in his last six games, all in post season play. Turner had a single, a double and drove in a run. Stone, Garcia, and Cannon Smith all had two singles each. Stone scored a pair of runs while Garcia crossed the plate once. McClure rapped a base hit, Nichols had a pair of RBI and Fraser scored a run.

Riverside right fielder Preston Nichols makes a leaping catch during state tournament play Saturday at Harrison.

Anderson led the Pirates at the plate with two hits and two RBI. Will Overton and Luke Osburn had two hits and two RBI each while Blake Hatch added a pair of singles and a run batted in.

In Friday’s first round game, Stone struck out 12 batters. The Rebel righthander had a sharp curve working the entire afternoon and kept the Mayflower batters off balance most of the day. Stone allowed just four hits, including Ethan York’s solo homer in the second, providing the Eagles’ only run. Turner came in to record the final out.

Riverside got two runs in the top of the first on Nichols’ two-run single to right field. After York’s homerun in the second cut the lead in half, the Rebels tacked on single runs in the third and fourth to move ahead 4-1. Riverside scored three times in the top of the sixth and blew the game open with a five run seventh, highlighted by Tilley’s two-run bomb over the left centerfield fence.

Tilley finished with a double, a homerun, three RBI and two runs scored. Fraser reached base four straight times, including three walks and a double while adding an RBI and a run scored. Garcia singled, doubled, scored twice, and drove home a pair of runs. Turner reached base four times with a single, a double, two walks and an RBI. Nichols had a two-run single while Overman singled and scored twice. McClure singled and scored a run. Hunter Swaim scored twice while Austin Smith crossed the plate once.

McClure shut down Genoa Central in Riverside’s quarterfinal win, limiting the Dragons to just four hits. McClure fanned six and issued just two walks.

Riverside got a pair of runs in the first inning, getting RBIs from Tilley and Nichols. Both teams scored in the third before the Rebels added two insurance runs in the top of the fifth. McClure shut out the Dragons over the final four innings to secure the victory.

Stone led Riverside at the plate with a single, a double, an RBI and a run scored. Garcia had a pair of hits and scored twice while Turner belted an RBI double. Nichols laced an RBI single, Fraser singled and scored a run while Overman had a base hit. Tilley added an RBI and a run scored.

The Rebels finished the season 25-7. Riverside won the blended conference championship outright and brought home the district title. The Rebels are the only 3A school in the state to advance to both the baseball and basketball state semifinals.

“We had a great run,” said Rebel coach Ben Hoggard. “I think we played our best baseball the first two games of the state tournament. This group of seniors led us to a great season and a very deep tournament run. These kids have been to two state semifinals and won two regional tournaments. They are great teammates and great ball players. My fondest memory of them will be the fact that these kids never quit fighting, no matter what the score was. They always battled hard and that’s the attitude of a winner. I am very honored to have coached them.”

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