Freshman Brady Brasher threw a one-hit shutout in his debut as a starter in the home opener for the Bearcats in a nonconference win over Waldron on Tuesday.
Three days later sophomore Dalton Herrera threw a one-hit shutout of his own in a five inning, 11-0 win over Paris.
The original home opener was slated for two weeks prior but was postponed due to weather and the nine games played prior to Tuesday, including one on Monday night, had all been in Mena or Ozark.
Besides Brasher’s gem classmate Hayden Fennell scored a run, drove in two in a 3-for-3 day at the plate and made one of several good defensive plays behind Brasher.
Fennell beat out an infield grounder leading off the third then swiped second base. He moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on Tyler Mathews’ ground ball.
It would stay 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth and in the meantime Brasher was flirting with perfection.
With two down in the fifth Mathew Sparks hit a slow roller to Dalton Herrera and Herrera threw across the diamond for what those in purple thought was the 15th in a row set down by Brasher. Instead, Sparks was called safe and Brasher got opposing pitcher Derek Solomon to pop out to end the inning.
Solomon took the loss despite allowing just three hits in five innings, including two in the fifth when he got out of a bases loaded jam.
Brasher struck out two Bulldogs in the sixth – he fanned five – before his teammates gave him some breathing room.
Brandon Wolski greeted relief pitcher Conner Betz with a single and James Ray followed with another. When Michael Drawbaugh was plunked the bases were loaded. Cody Simpson lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Wolski but Ray was thrown out trying to advance to third.
Trevor Jones drew a walk to bring up Fennell who singled to right to make it 4-0.
Brasher got the first two men he faced in the seventh but Braden Taft reached when Simpson dropped a fly ball but Brasher fanned Brady Wadkins.
Bearcats 11 Paris 0
Paris stranded a runner aboard via a base hit in the first and had another erased on a double play in the second. The Eagles did not have another baserunner until an error and a base on balls in the fifth. By then it was 11-0.
The Bearcats scored three times in the first. Cody Harrel led off with a walk, and while Dalton Herrera was at the plate, he stole second and third and came home when the throw to third sailed into left field. Herrera would single, steal second move to third on a fly ball by Brandon Wolski and scored on a sacrifice fly by James Ray.
Cody Simpson singled and later scored on an error to make it 3-0.
Wolski, Ray and Michael Drawbaugh all singled to start the third and after Simpson hit into a force play Trevor Jones was hit by a pitch to score a run and a second would score on a passed ball to make it 5-0.
Six fourth inning runs put the game away. Harrel doubled for the second time to start the inning, Herrera singled and Wolski doubled home a run before Ray walked and, following a pitching change, Drawbaugh was hit by a pitch to score a run and Simpson walked to score another.
Another walk and an error pushed the lead to double digits.
Bearcats 15 Mena 4
The Bearcats – Booneville’s – took advantage of three hit batters in the top of the fourth inning and scored five runs to break open a 3-3 tie.
Seven walks helped lead to seven more runs in the fifth and Booneville beat Mena 15-4 in a non-conference game.
Dalton Herrera singled home a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth and James Ray doubled home two in the fourth and singled home another an inning later.
Matt Berry was hit by a pitch and walked twice over the final two innings, Hayden Fennell walked twice in the fifth and Michael Drawbaugh was both hit by a pitch and walked over the final two innings.
Staked to a big lead Tyler Mathews (2-0) threw a complete game.