Black Knights tame Cougars
West Memphis Christian, in their most potent run scoring display of the season, triumphed over Lee Academy Tuesday night and earned a chance at a post- season birth
MARIANNA — The West Memphis Christian Black Knights (6-6 overall) emphatically pulled themselves into a two-way tie for second place in their district of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MSAIS) with a 18-4 victory over the Lee Academy Cougars (4-5), Tuesday evening.
“If we didn’t win this game tonight, our season would’ve inevitably been over,” said Black Knight assistant baseball coach Dale Stewart. “So now, we’ll probably go into a one-game playoff to see who goes to the (MSAIS) state playoffs.”
The one-game playoff, against Delta Academy (55) could happen as soon as tonight. Stewart says there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the post-season schedule, but one thing is certain, West Memphis Christian’s hopes of continuing their season are alive and well with their regular season finally victory over the Cougars.
After falling behind Lee Academy 1-0 through the first inning, the Black Knights came roaring back in the second frame, hanging up four runs on the hosts team. The first two West Memphis Christian runs got on the board as Charlie Farr singled and two more runs, including Farr, found the plate on another single, this time by Parker Benson.
Black Knight starting pitcher Cole Wann then tossed a scoreless second inning before helping his own cause in the third.
With one out, Wann singled past the Cougars’ shortstop, picking up the Black Knights fifth run.
Later in the same inning, Brady Holloway singled past the second base bag to score two more West Memphis Christian runs.
The ability to stay alive at the plate, no matter the count, allowed the Black Knights to score with ease in a game that would end up resulting in the most single-game runs West Memphis Christian had scored all season.
“We’ve really worked with these guys on throwing their hands at the ball when they get behind,” Stewart said. “They did a good job of fighting through a count. We want to stay ahead, obviously, but when we get ourselves behind, we’ve learned how to bat through it now.”
The Cougars began to create a rally in the bottom of the third inning, hitting Wann up for two more runs before the Black Knight’s starter gave way to Hunter Weathers who induced a groundball to end the inning with West Memphis Christian leading 7-3 and helped secure the win for Wann.
Continuing to put up crooked numbers, the Black Knights drove home another four runs in the fourth inning. Doubles by Weathers and Wann, respectively, increased the visitors lead to 10-3 before Patrick Ratliff knocked home the eleventh West Memphis Christian run on a single to right field.
Manning the rubber for the Black Knights in the bottom of the inning, and remaining there for the remainder of the contest while earning the rare fourinning save, was Benson. Benson, a sophomore, retired four Lee Academy batters via the strikeout in the enduring relief performance.
“Parker looked great tonight,” Stewart said.
“Parker’s just one of those kids. I like to call him a gamer. You can put him in in just about any situation and he’s going to perform.
He’s just built that way.
Also, I couldn’t have been prouder of our defense, they did a good job of protecting him.”
Ending the game with their foot on the gas, the Black Knights increased their cushion by adding six more runs in the top of the seventh inning. In the frame, West Memphis Christian benefited twice from bases-loaded walks, picked up a run on another RBI from Wann, scored on a fielders’ choice Farr put into play, brought a runner home on a sacrifice fly from Ratliff and earned their last run on a single by Holloway.
As a team, the Black Knights swiped eight bases on the evening. Stolen bases have become a staple of the West Memphis Christian offensive philosophy, according to Stewart. “We work on manufacturing runs,” Stewart said.
“We’re going to be aggressive on the basepath.
That’s who we are. But, we’re also going to be smart about how we run. It does us no good to leave guys on the bases. It’s important just to move guys around.”
With Tuesday’s victory at Lee Academy, the Black Knights complete a regular- season, three-game sweep over the Cougars.
The final run total in those games is 34-5, favoring West Memphis Christian.
Photo by Collins Peeples
By Collins Peeples