Before a 13-run fifth inning in the finals of the River Valley/NWA Classic it appeared the Bearcats were destined for their second tournament runner-up finish in as many weeks.
But after erasing a 9-1 deficit against Lincoln the Bearcats went on to beat the Wolves 16-14 to win the inaugural tournament organizers hope will become a premier event, minus, presumably, the ejections of a coach, player and spectators.
Set up as a 16-team tournament, there were four pools of four teams with each of the pools sending its winner to Ozark to decide a winner on Saturday.
Ozark was one of the pool hosts, where the Bearcats went 3-0 Wednesday through Friday, and host schools Lincoln, Dover and Morrilton all winning their pools. The Ozark pool replaced the Shell Blanscet Memorial Tournament, which is in honor of the founder of Hillbilly baseball and of which Booneville is a regular participant.
Booneville’s success in the Blanscet has been limited until running the table against Clarksville, Dardanelle and the host school last week.
Ninth hitting Matt Berry was hit by a pitch to start the fifth for the Bearcats. After Cody Harrel walked, Dalton Herrera and Brandon Wolski were both hit by pitches to force in a run.
After a walk to James Ray got a run home singles by Michael Drawbaugh and Cody Simpson scored single runs and another by Trevor Jones chased home two. Hayden Fennel singled to reload the bases.
Berry was hit by a pitch for the second time in the inning to score a run, Harrel singled home another, Herrera got one home on a fielder’s choice and, after Wolski walked, to score another a double by Ray cleared the bases before the next three hitters were retired in order.
Berry also started a two-run sixth that made it 16-10 with a double. He scored on Herrera’s single, who scored on a single by Brady Brasher.
After the 13-run fifth Herrera took over on the mound for Tyler Mathews (1-0) who was the third pitcher for the Bearcats. Herrera surrendered a run in the fifth to make it 14-10 and another in the sixth to make it 16-11.
Wolski, who had thrown a complete game to get the Bearcats to the finals had one inning left for the day and took the mound in the seventh. Lincoln scored three times on three errors and a hit batter in the inning and had the tying run at the plate before Wolski got a ground ball to short to end it.
Lincoln had led 9-1 through four innings roughing up Ray for four in the second and Harrel and Mathews for five in the third. Booneville’s first run came when Berry was hit for the first of three times and scored on a double by Herrera.
A week removed from a loss to Morrilton in the finals of a tournament in Mena the Bearcats scored five times with two down in the fifth and Brandon Wolski (3-0) made it stand up.
Hayden Fennell singled to start the inning but Matt Berry was retired. A single by Cody Harrel preceded a ground out by Dalton Herrera but Wolski drew a walk and James Ray singled home two, and Michael Drawbaugh, Cody Simpson and Trevor Jones all knocked in one in succession to make it 5-0.
Hitless to that point Morrilton got a run after a hit and a walk, but had another cut down at the plate to end the inning down 5-1.
The Devil Dogs scored another in the seventh before Wolski closed the door.
Bearcats 12 Ozark 0
Friday night’s game saw the Bearcats use a 7-run fifth to put the game away.
Already up 5-0 the Bearcats got a gift when Trevor Jones reached on an error. Hayden Fennell slapped a double to left to make it 6-0 and after Matt Berry grounded out Cody Harrel doubled home a run to make it 7-0.
After leading off the game with a fly ball out, Harrel was 3-for-4 with a single, double and a triple.
Dalton Herrera struck out but Brandon Wolski walked – Hillbilly pitchers issued 11 free passes – James Ray single home a run, Michael Drawbaugh and Cody Simpson walked before Jones single home two more.
Ray (2-0) had a no-hitter going to that point and had thrown only 38 pitches but Tyler Mathews was called on to complete the game. Mathews preserved the no-no but had to pitch around a two out error.
Ray allowed only two baserunners, both on walks, but Crumpacker was thrown out trying to steal and McChristian was erased on a double play.
Leadoff batter Cody Harrel reached base five straight times and scored four runs for the Bearcats. Harrel doubled and scored when Michael Drawbaugh reached on an error in the first as the Bearcats opened a 2-0 lead for Dalton Herrera (1-0).
Harrel walked and scored on a single by Brandon Wolski in the second. Wolski hit a two run home run in the seventh, which also chased home Harrel.
After a two-run single by Matt Berry in the third, Harrel reached on an error that scored a run and Herrera added another RBI and the Bearcats led 7-2.
Trevor Jones drove in a run in the fourth before Wolski’s home run.
Herrera struck out seven over six innings before Jacob Krepps worked the final inning for the Bearcats.
The Bearcats scored nine times in the sixth inning to end the pool player opener early.
The clinching inning started with Cody Simpson drawing a walk and Jacob Krepps working a second. After Hayden Fennell drove in a run with a ground out Matt Berry reached on an error.
Between walks to Cody Harrel and James Ray, Dalton Herrera singled home one and Brandon Wolski doubled home two. Trevor Jones had a run-scoring single and Simpson double home a run before the run rule tally came home on a wild pitch.
Wolski struck out 10 and allowed one hit in a complete game win.