Diamond Dogs fall to defending champs in 5A state tournament, but earn several postseason honors

Diamond Dogs fall to defending champs in 5A state tournament, but earn several postseason honors

The 2023 high school baseball season was a highly successful one for the Greenwood Bulldogs and new head coach Brandon Brewer. They won the 5A West conference race with a 13-1 record and finished 19-8 overall with a first-round loss in the 5A state tournament to the reigning state champion Marion Patriots, falling 5-1 last Thursday. The tournament was also held at Marion in Northeast Arkansas.

Despite ending the season sooner than they would have liked, the Bulldogs and their head coach garnered several postseason awards. Shortstop Harrison Adams and pitchers Aiden Kennon and Grant Karnes were named as All-State players and several of their teammates earned all-conference honors, including Brady Pettigrew, Braden Skaggs, and Dawson Holt. Head Coach Brandon Brewer was named as the 5A West conference Coach of the Year in his first season at the helm of the Bulldogs’ program. Adams, Kennon, and Holt are the only seniors among that group.

Rogers-Heritage 6, Greenwood 2

After winning the 5A West by one game over second place Greenbrier and before their loss to Marion in the playoffs, the Bulldogs had a tune-up contest at Rogers-Heritage on Friday, May 5th, a 6-2 loss to the War Eagles, who also qualified for the Class 6A playoffs, reaching their state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Springdale Har-Ber.

Against the War Eagles the Bulldogs scored twice in the top of the first inning, only to have the home team knot the score after one frame, 2-2. But Heritage pitching did a number on the Bulldogs the rest of the way while the War Eagles added runs in the third (2), fourth, and fifth innings. Both teams had eight hits and Rogers made the only error.

Hunter Houston (3 innings), Brady Pettigrew (2 innings), and Dawson Holt (1 inning) did the pitching for Greenwood, with Houston taking the loss while giving up four runs, five hits, and four walks. Heritage also used three hurlers with their starter going five innings and the three combined for 12 GHS strikeouts.

With the bats, the Bulldogs got three hits from Grant Karnes, two each from Dawson Holt and Brady Pettigrew, and one from Harrison Adams. Pettigrew and Adams had the team’s two RBIs. They were also the only two Bulldogs who did not strike out in the contest.

Marion 5, Greenwood 1

The Bulldogs picked a bad time to go cold, losing three of their last four games after going 12-0 in their first dozen conference games. In those four games the Diamond Dogs scored a total of 11 runs, and just six runs in the three losses. They split their last two conference games with Greenbrier by identical scores of 5-3, lost to Rogers-Heritage 6-2, before falling to the Patriots in extra innings in the opening round of the 5A state tournament, 5-1.

GHS senior hurler Aiden Kennon got the start for the Bulldogs after going unbeaten during the regular season, and did his part for three innings of work, blanking the Pats in a scoreless game through 3½ innings. Kennon gave up no hits, one walk, and fanned three Marion hitters. He was relieved in the fourth inning by Grant Karns.

The Diamond Dogs pushed across their first and only run in the bottom of the fourth inning when Harrison Adams walked and came around to score on an RBI hit by Braden Skaggs. But Marion pitching limited Greenwood to just three knocks in the contest and the GHS defense fell apart in the sixth and eighth innings, allowing five unearned runs to score for the Patriots. Uncharacteristically, the Bulldogs made five errors.

Marion tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning, and the same score after seven frames meant extra innings. But the suspense didn’t last long as Greenwood’s shaky defense blew up in the top of the eighth inning, allowing all four unearned runs to score for the Patriots. Grant Karnes was still in the game for the Bulldogs and took the loss despite giving up just three hits and two walks in 4.1 innings of work. Austin Mitchell finished the game on the mound for Greenwood, charged with one run on one hit.

At the plate there wasn’t much to brag about for Greenwood. Dawson Holt, Brady Pettigrew, and Braden Skaggs had one hit each with Skaggs accounting for the only run driven in. The team combined to strike out eight times and left only two baserunners stranded.

Season Stats

With the season now completed, Coach brewer released the final stats for each player. Aiden Kennon (8-0) and Grant Karnes (8-1) were the team’s top pitchers by far. Kennon had an earned run average (ERA) of 1.19 over 53 innings pitched with 66 strikeouts. Karnes had a 1.74 ERA over 56.1 innings of work with 74 strikeouts. The team will miss the graduating Kennon, but has Karnes in the fold for two more seasons.

Offensively, the top batting average among the starters was .403 by Braden Skaggs, followed closely by Harrison Adams (.397) and Grant Karnes (.386). Dawson Holt hit .299, Weston Pschier .294, and Aiden Kennon hit .292 to round out the most consistent bats for the Bulldogs.

Harrison Adams led the team in on-base-percentage at .510, drawing a team-high 14 walks while getting 31 hits. Brady Pettigrew was next at .490 with 13 walks and a team-high 32 hits, with Grant Karnes right behind at .480. Karnes did lead the team in stolen bases with nine, just ahead of Harrison Adams with seven and Dawson Holt’s and Brady Pettigrew’s six steals each.

Holt and Braden Skaggs tied for the team lead in doubles with seven each. The Diamond Dogs had only three homeruns this season, one each by Pettigrew, Holt, and Hunter Houston. Holt and Adams had two triples each. Eight GHS hitters reached double figures in RBIs – Pettigrew (23), Skaggs (21), Pschier (15), Karnes (15), Adams (14), Mitchell (11), Holt (10), and Houston (10).

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