The Benton Tigers and Haughton Bucs opened two-game District 1-5A series with victories Thursday.
In a hard-fought battle at Airline, first-place Benton edged Airline 2-0 in 10 innings.
Haughton defeated Byrd 5-2 at Haughton, moving into a tie with the Yellow Jackets for second place.
Benton (23-4, 10-1) can clinch at least a share of its eighth straight district title with a victory over Airline (8-19, 4-7) at Benton on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Tigers won seven straight District 1-4A championships before moving up to 1-5A last year. No champion was crowned in 2020 after the season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Haughton (24-5, 8-3) and Byrd (20-5, 8-3) trail Benton by two games with three to play.
In the other 1-5A games Thursday, Parkway fell to Natchitoches Central 5-3 in Natchitoches and Captain Shreve swept a doubleheader against Southwood 11-1 and 13-2 at Shreve.
In a non-district game, Bossier blanked Jonesboro-Hodge 14-0 on the road.
At Airline, the Tigers and Vikings battled for nine scoreless innings. Benton finally broke the deadlock with two runs in the top of the 10th. Both came with two outs.
Clint Lasiter doubled and scored on Dane Stearns’ single. Grayson Gates brought Stearns home with a double.
Grayson Mims then sat the Vikings down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Both teams got strong pitching performances.
Benton starter Bryson Pierce went eight innings. He allowed just four hits, walked only one and struck out nine.
Mims pitched the final two innings to get the win. He didn’t allow a hit or walk and struck out two.
Airline’s Caleb Hemmings went 9 2/3 innings. He scattered seven hits, walked only one and struck out eight.
The Vikings put runners on first and second with two outs in the sixth, but Pierce induced a popup to end the threat.
Tyler Ferguson, who went 2-for-3, doubled with one out in the eighth. But the Vikings couldn’t advance him.
Benton had a few opportunities to get on the board before the 10th.
Rylan Lawrence was stranded after a two-out double in the fourth. Lasiter reached third with two outs in the sixth but Hemmings induced a groundout to end the threat.
Brock Van Hoy led off the top of the seventh with a double and courtesy runner Hudson Brignac advanced to third on Cade Stewart’s sacrifice bunt. But Hemmings induced another groundout and followed that with a strikeout.
At Haughton, the Bucs broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the fifth and then added one in the sixth.
Chandler Lytle drew a one-out walk in the fifth. After a popout, Colin Rains hit a home run over left-field fence.
In the sixth, leadoff batter Chase Keith reached on an error, advanced to third on Hunter Chavis’ single and scored on Jackson Voigt’s groundout.
Haughton starter Jacob Hernandez allowed five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Austin Anderson got the win in relief. He didn’t allow a hit or walk and struck out three in 2 1/3 innings.
Carter Griffin got two of the Bucs’ seven hits. Voigt had an RBI-double in the fourth. Keith scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the second.
Slade Netterville led the Yellow Jackets with two hits.
The series is scheduled to conclude at 1 Saturday at Byrd’s LSUS field.
At Natchitoches Central, Parkway led 3-2 through 4.5 innings, but the Chiefs (14-17, 4-7) rallied with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The Panthers had four hits. Trenton Lape had two RBI.
Cade Josting scattered eight hits in five innings and struck out eight.
Parkway (15-10, 4-7) will go for the split at 1 Saturday at Parkway.
At Jonesboro-Hodge, Avery Williams allowed one hit and struck out four as Bossier improved to 6-15.
Coleman Beeson had three hits, including two doubles, and five RBI.
AJ Green hit a two-run home run. Xamian Johnson had two RBI.
Bossier is scheduled to host Ringgold at 6 Friday.
NOTE: The above report is based on information on teams’ GameChanger accounts and provided by coaches