The Benton Tigers are one win away from advancing to the Class 4A quarterfinals for the third straight year.
The Tigers defeated the Lakeshore Titans 12-3 Friday in Benton in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series. Benton (27-9), the No. 4 seed, can close out the series with a victory in Game 2 at 1 p.m. Saturday. Lakeshore (16-12), the No. 13 seed, can force a decisive Game 3 immediately following with a victory.
Wade Grubbs and Tyler Stephens had three hits each for Benton. Grubbs went 3-for-5 with four RBI. Stephens went 3-for-4 with a double.
Branson Woodward went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Winning pitcher Tanner Craft had a two-run double. Jaret Gill had a double and scored a run with a sacrifice fly.
Craft allowed six hits in 6 1/3 innings with five of those coming in Lakeshore’s three-run fifth.
The Tigers jumped on the Titans early, taking advantage of two errors. Gill’s sacrifice fly came in the inning as did Stephens’ double. Josh Scherer singled home two runs.
Benton put three more on the board in the bottom of the third. Woodward and Stephens had back-to-back singles. Scherer and Ward walked in consecutive bats to score a run. Grubbs’ made it 7-0 with a two-out single to right field.
After Lakeshore cut the lead to 7-3 in the top of the fifth, Benton answered with three in the bottom of the inning. All three came after an infield error with two outs. Grubbs’ had an RBI single and Craft’s double to the gap in center field made it 10-3.
Benton added two more in the sixth. Gill led off with a double to left field and scored on a Woodward single. Woodward advanced to second on a ground out and reached third on a passed ball. He scored on Grubbs’ two-out single.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org