Lions blast Mohawks 11-2 in district finals

Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Manila's Joel Burrow throws a pitch during the district baseball title game Monday afternoon at Walnut Ridge. Manila defeated Piggott behind the strong performance of Burrow to claim the championship. (Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

Senior righthander Joel Burrow threw five strong innings and Layne Sims blasted a grand slam homerun to propel Manila to an 11-2 victory over Piggott in the finals of the 3A-3 District Tournament Championship last Monday afternoon at Walnut Ridge.

Burrow allowed just three hits and two earned runs while striking out four batters to claim the victory. Sims clobbered his second bases loaded homer of the season, highlighting an eight-run Lion fifth inning that broke open a one run game.

The Lions got on the board in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Brock Birmingham led off the inning with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. Birmingham scooted home on Brady Clark’s RBI groundout.

Lion catcher Brady Clark blocks a pitch during Monday afternoon's district championship game against Piggott.

The Mohawks evened the game, scoring a run in the top of the third. Holden Tarno walked and rode home on Dylan Bellers’ ringing double off the left field fence.

The Lions answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Michael Parker led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Hunter Vuletich. Jeremiah Perez attempted a sacrifice bunt. Mohawk pitcher Josh Lyman threw to second for the force out, but the ball bounced into centerfield, allowing both runners to be safe. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Birmingham followed with a sharp line drive the opposite way just inside the left field line for an RBI, scoring Vuletich. Michael Jorgensen’s RBI groundout to short scored Perez, giving Manila a 3-1 lead after three innings of play.

Piggott sliced the Lion lead to a single run, 3-2, in the top of the fifth. Luke Boyd drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second. A groundout moved Boyd to third where he scored on a Burrow wild pitch.

Manila once again found an answer to a Piggott score, this time exploding for eight runs in the bottom of the frame. The first five tallies came off Piggott relief pitcher Dylan Bellers. Perez started things with an opposite field single. Bellers then plucked Birmingham with a pitch before walking Jorgensen to load the bases. Clark stepped to the plate and hammered a fast ball off the left field fence, scoring two runs and giving Manila a 5-2 advantage. Bellers walked Burrow to juice the bases once more, sending the Mohawk righthander to the showers. Abraham Lopez greeted Piggott reliever John Jones with an RBI single to center, pushing Manila’s lead to 6-2. Sims then crushed a John Jones pitch deep over the left field fence to increase the Lion lead to 10-2. Birmingham added a sacrifice fly in the inning to cap off the eight-run rally, giving the Lions an 11-2 lead.

Abraham Lopez came on in relief of Burrow and threw an inning and two thirds of shutout ball to close out the game.

Lyman absorbed the loss, pitching four innings, allowing three runs on just two hits while striking out four. Bellers allowed five runs, all earned, on two hits, while Jones gave up three runs on two hits.

“It feels very good to win the district title, but like I told the kids, it’s good to be here but we need to keep moving on and keep going forward,” said Lion coach Derek Drewitt. “Joel threw really well today. He got ahead in the count and he did what we asked him to do. Layne hit the big bomb for us that broke the game open. We have a great bunch of kids and I am very proud of their effort.”

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