The Lonoke Jackrabbits are in a similar position as last year after beating Clinton 11-1 to win the 4A-2 district tournament Saturday at the Lonoke Ball Park.
A year ago, Lonoke won the district championship but got knocked off by Cave City in the first round of the East Region tournament, denying the Jackrabbits a return trip to the Class 4A state tournament. In 2012, Lonoke finished as the Class 4A state runner-up.
"You’ve definitely got to keep that in the back of your mind and not let that happen again," Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery said, referring to loss to Cave City in the regional in 2013. "I think this group of guys has done a great job of knowing what’s in front of them and staying on track and doing all the things we need to do and not letting a slip-up happen."
Following the win over Clinton on Saturday, the Jackrabbits did not celebrate much.
"These guys do an excellent job of staying on the path that we know we set ahead of us at the first of the season," Lowery said. "We have a workmanlike approach to our business."
In Saturday’s win over Clinton, Lonoke trailed 1-0 after the top of the second. Cody Lowder walked and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. He scored on a single by Kannon Bradley.
Lonoke took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third. Haven Hunter, Elijah Seigrist and Christian James scored on a bases-clearing double by Nick Watson.
The Jackrabbits added three runs in the fourth. Scoring were Cody Martin, Casey Martin and Seigrist.
Lonoke ended the game with five runs in the bottom of the fifth. Scoring were Nick Graves, Watson, Ethan Holland (pinch running for Mikey Shinn), Seigrist and Cody Martin. Haven Hunter drove in the final two runs to end the game.
Watson was 2 for 4 with five RBIs.
Watson also got the win. He gave up one run on six hits. He struck out eight.
Lonoke advanced to the finals with a 10-2 win over Stuttgart on Friday.
Shinn gave up two runs — both unearned — while allowing only three hits and striking out seven in seven innings of work.
Lonoke led 3-0 after two innings and 5-2 after the fourth.
The Jackrabbits put the game away with five runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Graves and Lance Duggar, running for Seigrist, each scored two runs. Also scoring were Pierce Johnson, James, Watson, Cody Martin, Casey Martin and Haven Hunter.
Shinn led Lonoke with three hits and two RBIs.
"We put together two pretty-well executed games, probably two of the better games we’ve played all season," Lowery said. "That’s a good feeling, coming this late in the season, especially at tournament time."