After a 10-7 start to their regular season, the Greenwood Bulldogs closed with a flourish, winning 10 straight games at one point, but it wasn’t enough to earn them a spot in the 5A state playoffs.
The Diamond ‘Dogs finished 10-2 in their last 12 games, but it was the two losses at the end that determined their fate. Greenwood needed at least one win in a doubleheader at Greenbrier on April 29th to earn a fourth-place tie with Vilonia at 9-5 in conference play, requiring a tiebreaker.
Winning both games against the Panthers would have given the Bulldogs fourth place outright and a ticket to the post-season tournament. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Unfortunately, the 5A West was loaded with good teams this season, leaving the defending state champion Bulldogs (20-9, 8-6) on the outside looking in this post-season.
The top four in the league standings include Little Rock Christian (20-4, 12-2), Greenbrier (19-4, 11-3), Russellville (18-9) and Vilonia (14-12), both 9-5 in conference play. The state playoffs begin on Thursday at Benton High School.
The Diamond ‘Dog’s 10th consecutive win came at the expense of Class 6A Fayetteville on April 25th. The Purple Dogs hosted Greenwood in a non-conference contest, won by the visitors, 5-3.
GHS junior starter Jace Presley held Fayetteville scoreless through five frames as his teammates built a 5-0 lead. The Bulldogs scored twice in the second and third innings and once in the fifth before the Purple Dogs broke the shutout with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The visitors out-hit Fayetteville by a count of eight to five. Both teams committed one fielding error. Presley went six innings for the win, yielding five hits, one walk, fanning four Fayetteville hitters, and giving up no earned runs.
A two-out error in the sixth lead to all three Fayetteville runs. Senior Peyton Holt relieved Presley and pitched a scoreless seventh for the save.
Offensively, the Bulldogs were led by Reed Carroll with two hits, both singles, and two RBIs. Presley and Colton Sagely also had hits and one RBI each. Holt was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. Landry Jurecka had the only extra-base hit for Greenwood, a double, also scoring a run.
The Bulldogs’ late-inning comeback fizzled last Tuesday (April 30th) as the Panthers rallied for an 8-7 win in the first game of the critical 5A-West doubleheader.
Sophomore hurler Landry Jurecka started the game for Greenwood and went five solid innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and no walks, striking out six enemy hitters.
Peyton Holt’s three-run dinger gave the Bulldogs a 6-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning. Holt also relieved Jurecka in the bottom of the sixth, but was roughed up for three hits, two walks, and five runs, four of them earned, as the Panthers retook the lead, 8-6.
Greenbrier got all three of its runs off Jurecka in the opening frame with five hits, all singles. He then retired 12 of the next 16 hitters he faced, allowing the Bulldogs to rally for a three-run lead.
Trailing 3-0 after four innings, Greenwood scored twice in the fifth when hits by Holt and Sagely followed a lead-off walk to Caden Brown. Another lead-off walk in the sixth led to a four-run GHS rally, capped by Holt’s three-run blast to left-center field.
After Greenbrier regained the lead 8-6 in the bottom half of the frame, Greenwood scored once in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Chance Sneathern to make the final score, 8-7.
Holt and Colton Sagely had two hits apiece to lead the GHS offense. Holt had four RBIs and Caden Brown scored a pair of runs.
Greenwood’s game two starter was Nick Phelps, who lasted into the fifth inning, giving up six runs on just three hits, striking out three Panthers’ hitters. Only one of those runs was earned off Phelps.
The GHS defense committed a whopping seven errors in the game. Greenbrier scored nine runs on just four hits. Cade Lynch relieved Phelps and retired five hitters while allowing three runs (two earned) on just one hit. Phelps and Lynch also combined for six walks.
The home team scored once in the opening frame, but Greenwood plated three runs in the top of the second for a 3-1 lead that held up until the bottom of the fourth.
The Panthers then took advantage of Greenwood’s poor defense and a pair of walks to score five times on just one hit, a double, to take the lead for good at 6-3.
Greenwood scored a solo run in the sixth, but the Panthers answered with three more tallies in the bottom half of the frame for the 9-4 win, putting an end to the Bulldogs’ hopes of making the post-season.
Jace Presley had two hits for Greenwood. Peyton Holt had a double and a walk.
Despite their fine record of 20 wins against nine losses, this is the first time under Head Coach Trey Holloway that the Bulldogs have failed to reach the post-season. Holloway’s first season at Greenwood was in 2015.