High school baseball: Benton falls in Class 4A semifinals

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The Benton Tigers’ outstanding season came to an end Sunday with a 2-0 loss to the Tioga Indians in the Class 4A semifinals at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Baseball State Tournament at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

Benton, the No. 4 seed, closed its season 33-7. Top-seeded Tioga (30-5), which won its 30th straight, will face the winner of No. 2 Lakeshore and No. 3 Breaux Bridge for the title on Tuesday.

The game was the final one for seven Benton seniors — infielder/pitcher Sam Simmons, rightfielder JT. Brice, catcher Cole Horton, courtesy runner Hayden Gatti, first baseman Daniel Halbert, designated hitter Matthew Gennaro and infielder Jake Maranto.

They contributed to four District 1-4A championships and the 2018 Class 4A state championship. Benton reached the quarterfinals in 2016 and 2017. The Tigers won 114 games from 2016-19, including 94 the last three seasons.

The semifinal game was suspended last Thursday after three innings with Tioga on top 1-0.

Pitching dominated play Sunday. Benton was unable to get a hit off Tioga’s Blake McGehee, who finished with a one-hitter.

Brock Van Hoy pitched the final three innings for Benton. He allowed two hits and one run. Landon Joyner pitched the first three innings Thursday.

Simmons had Benton’s lone hit, a single in the second inning Thursday.

The Tigers made good contact against McGehee, striking out only twice Sunday and four times in the game. But the hits weren’t there. Benton had four flyouts, four groundouts and a popup Sunday.

Benton had only one baserunner Sunday. Leadoff hitter Halbert was hit by a pitch in the top of the fifth. But the Indians turned a 4-6-3 double play.

Tioga scored its second run in the bottom of the sixth. Peyton Forester led off with a double. Van Hoy then induced a flyout and groundout before McGehee brought home Forester with a triple.