The Benton Tigers got off to a fast start and rolled to an 8-1 victory over the North DeSoto Griffins in the first game of their District 1-4A series Friday at Benton.
The three-time defending district champion Tigers (11-10, 3-0) and Griffins (14-6, 2-1) complete the series at noon Saturday in Stonewall.
North DeSoto is No. 4 in the Class 4A power rankings. The Griffins had a seven-game winning streak snapped. Benton is No. 15. The Tigers have won three in a row and five of their last six.
Centenary College signee Tanner Craft pitched a complete game for Benton. He scattered eight hits, struck out five and walked two.
Seven Tigers had hits. Cody Norris went 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI. Taylor Ward had two RBI.
Benton jumped out to a 5-0 lead with two runs in the first and three in the second.
The Tigers scored the first-inning runs without a hit. Leadoff batter Wade Grubbs reached on a error and Craft walked. Ward moved them over with a sacrifice, and Grubbs scored on a passed ball.
Tyler Self, running for Craft, advanced to third on the passed ball and scored on Sam Simmons’ groundout to shortstop. Conner Jack Smith did get a two-out single, but a strikeout ended the inning.
Benton got the bats going in the second with consecutive singles by Norris, Austin Beck, Grubbs, Craft and Ward.
Coleman Nerren scored the Tigers’ third-inning run on a wild pitch. He had a bunt single in the inning.
Benton scored its final two runs in the fifth. Garrett Hable walked and Nerren reached on a dropped third strike. Norris doubled to centerfield, scoring Hable. Nerren scored on Beck’s groundout to third.
North DeSoto had its chances. The Griffins had the same number of hits as the Tigers, but Craft was able to work his way out of trouble.
North DeSoto had a baserunner in every inning but the seventh.
In the second, the Griffins had runners at first and second with one out, but Craft got a flyout and strikeout to end the inning.
North DeSoto scored its only run in the third on Hunter Speights’ RBI single. With Speights at first, Craft got a popup and groundout to end the inning.
In the fourth, the Tigers turned a double play with one out and runners at first and second.
The Griffins started the fifth with back-to-back singles. But Craft got a popup for the first out and first baseman Ward caught a line drive at first and stepped on the bag for an unassisted double play.
North DeSoto again put runners on first and second in the sixth with no outs. But Craft got a strikeout and right fielder Simmons caught a line drive for the first two outs. The final out came on a foul tip.
According to North DeSoto stats, the Griffins’ Alex Bonne went 3-for-4, and Gerardo Vasquez had two hits.
In another District 1-4A games, Bossier downed Woodlawn 26-12 at Woodlawn.
Bossier’s Derrick Jones and Jon-Mikal Robertson had two hits and four RBI each. Brent Wroblewski went 2-for-3 with three RBI. Rangel Miller had two hits and two RBI.
Kevin McCuthen had a triple and four RBI. Robertson was the winning pitcher.
NOTE: The above report is based on box scores and play-by-plays on teams’ official GameChanger accounts and information received from coaches.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com