Diamond ‘Dogs off and running; split at Russellville

Diamond ‘Dogs off and running; split at Russellville

The Greenwood High School Bulldogs’ baseball team is off to a great start this season, posting a 4-0 mark in non-conference play before opening 5A West conference action this past Tuesday at Russellville. Head Coach Brandon Brewer and his Diamond ‘Dogs own wins over Booneville, Shiloh Christian, and two over Bethany, Oklahoma. They split the league doubleheader at Russellville, winning the opener before losing the nightcap partly due to a bit of bad luck.

Greenwood was scheduled to host Poteau, Oklahoma on Thursday, though the weather forecast was not good, then travel to Red Oak, Oklahoma on Friday, the final day of classes before the start of spring break. The Bulldogs will play four games next week, all of them on the road in Central Arkansas against Maumelle, Brookland, Hot Springs Lakeside, and Little Rock Christian Academy. They will return to league play on Tuesday, March 26, at home against Van Buren.

Booneville

On Friday, March 1st the Bulldogs opened their 2024 regular season with a 10-0 five-inning victory over the Booneville Bearcats, after their originally scheduled inaugural contest with Gravette was cancelled by the Lions. The Diamond ‘Dogs got stellar pitching performances from starter Grant Karnes and reliever Mason Moore. The two junior hurlers combined for 11 strikeouts and allowed just two hits and no walks. Karnes went three frames giving up two hits and fanning eight of the nine hitters he retired. Moore gave no hits and fanned three batters in his two innings.

At the plate, the Bulldogs scored in four of their five at bats, getting a walk-off run in the bottom of the fifth, triggering the 10-run-rule. Along the way they peppered Bearcats’ pitching for 16 hits and had only one strikeout in the decisive victory. Greenwood scored twice in the first inning, three times in the second, then plated four runs in the fourth frame before winning the game on a solo run in the bottom of the fifth. Booneville pitching failed to record an out in the home half of the fifth.

Offensively, leadoff hitter Braden Skaggs and second baseman Jackson Cole led the charge, going seven-for-seven between them with two runs batted in. Left-fielder Skaggs had four hits, all singles, and scored two runs with one RBI. Hitting seventh in the lineup, Cole had three hits, including a double, with an RBI and a run scored.

Other hitting stars included freshman catcher Ty Holt, Grant Karnes, and third baseman Austin Bercher, all with two hits each. Holt also drove home a pair of runs while Karnes had a double and Bercher a triple and two RBIs. Bercher also swiped two bases along with two for Skaggs. First baseman Brady Pettigrew, centerfielder Austin Mitchell, and designated hitter Cooper Webb all had solo hits. Mitchell had a double with two RBIs while Pettigrew also drove home a run.

Shiloh Christian

The Bulldogs needed three pitchers to subdue a tough Saints squad last Tuesday, March 5th, winning 8-6 in seven innings at Springdale. Austin Mitchell, Mason Moore, and Grant Karnes toed the rubber for Greenwood with starter Mitchell getting credit for the win with 3.2 innings of work. He allowed four runs on five hits, but only one of those runs was earned with the GHS defense committing three errors in the game. He also fanned six batters. Moore went 1.2 frames yielding two runs on two hits with just one of those runs earned. However, he did issue three walks. Finally, Karnes recorded the final five outs with two strikeouts, giving up two hits and a walk for the save.

At the dish, Greenwood had just seven knocks to nine for Shiloh Christian but were gifted with eight walks by Saints’ pitching. Braden Skaggs and Brady Pettigrew had two hits each with the latter also plating two runners while belting a double and the first GHS homerun of the season. Grant Karnes, who played right and center field before ascending to the mound, also had a hit and two RBIs. Jackson Cole and outfielder Zack Zitsmann also had a hit each with Zitsmann collecting an RBI. Likewise, Austin Bercher drove home a run, but without a hit.

The visitors trailed 1-0 before plating four runs in the top of the second. Greenwood led 7-1 after pushing across three more runs in the top of the fourth before the Saints got a three spot in the bottom half of the frame and added another run in the fifth. Ahead 7-5 after five innings, the Bulldogs scored a solo run in the top of the sixth, matched by the Saints in the home half of the inning. Neither team scored in the seventh, giving the Bulldogs their second win of the young season, 8-6.

Bethany, Oklahoma

Last Saturday, March 9th, the Bulldogs hosted the Bronchos of Bethany, Oklahoma in a doubleheader, sweeping both games by scores of 8-1 and 10-2. Zack Zitzmann and Brady Pettigrew manned the pitching mound in game one while Mason Moore, Aaron Taylor, and Cooper Webb toed the rubber in game two. Offensively, the Diamond ‘Dogs racked up 24 hits and 18 runs over the two games to improve to 4-0 on the season.

The opener remained scoreless through two innings and the Bronchos didn’t score until their final at bat in the top of the seventh. Bethany was held to six hits in the game and committed three errors on defense, giving the Bulldogs four unearned runs. Greenwood scored in the third, fourth, and sixth innings on eight total hits. A solo run in the third got the home team on the scoreboard, followed by two more tallies in the fourth. Leading 3-0, the Bulldogs plated five runs in the fifth to put the game on ice behind the stellar mound work of Zitzmann and Pettigrew.

Third baseman Grant Karnes was the hitting star for Greenwood in game one with three knocks in four at bats, including two singles and a double, scoring one run. Catcher Ty Holt had two singles and outfielder Austin Mitchell had two hits as well. Outfielder and leadoff hitter Braden Skaggs had a single and an RBI with two runs scored. Despite going hitless in the game, Brady Pettigrew had a pair of RBIs, as did second baseman Jackson Cole, who went 1-for-3 (a double), driving home those two runs and scoring one. Game one starter Zack Zitzmann had one hit in two official at bats with an RBI and a walk. Outfielder Austin Bercher picked up a double in three plate appearances plus two walks.

On the hill, Zitzmann went five frames giving as many hits but no runs with zero walks and seven strikeouts. He was relieved in the sixth by Pettigrew, who threw two innings, pitching around one hit and three walks with two strikeouts. Because Pettigrew entered the game with Greenwood ahead 3-0, he was credited with a save.

In game two the Diamond ‘Dogs jumped out to a big early lead and never really gave the Bronchos any hope of a rally or win. The pitching duties were evenly divided between starter Mason Moore (two innings), Aaron Taylor (three innings), and Cooper Webb (two innings). Moore gave up both runs (unearned) but got the victory and Taylor the save. The three GHS hurlers combined to fan five Bethany hitters and issued four bases on balls, but just two total hits with no earned runs. The Greenwood defense made two errors in the contest.

At the dish, the Bulldogs scored a first inning run but took charge with five second inning tallies, leading 6-2 after two frames. Another run in the third was followed by three more in the bottom of the fifth, making the final score 10-2. The home team belted 13 hits, including three doubles by Austin Bercher, Austin Mitchell, and Braden Skaggs. Grant Karnes had a stolen base.

Skaggs led the squad with three hits and scored three runs. Ty Holt was 1-of-2 with a pair of walks and an RBI. Karnes was 3-of-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Brady Pettigrew had a single with a walk and an RBI. Jackson Cole added two hits and a team-high four RBIs with a walk. Austin Mitchell also had two hits while Zack Zitzmann added an RBI. Designated hitter Josh Wright scored two runs and Austin Bercher had a double and scored a run. Brady Morgan also scored a run.

Russellville

The conference opener against the Cyclones turned out to be a blowout behind the strong starting pitching of Grant Karnes, who went six innings while giving up just four hits and one earned run with a walk and nine strikeouts on 85 pitches. Greenwood scored 10 runs, five earned, on 16 hits while Russellville made six costly fielding errors. The Cyclones were able to turn the tables in game two with a great pitching performance of their own in a 2-1 victory to salvage a split of the doubleheader.

The first inning of game one was scoreless before the Bulldogs broke the scoring ice with a solo run in the top of the second. But with Grant Karnes pitching zeros at the Cyclones, he and his teammates added two runs in both the third and fourth frames for a 5-0 GHS lead after four innings. Russellville plated its only run in the fifth before Greenwood added five insurance runs in their last at bat in the top of the seventh. Aaron Taylor took over for Karnes and closed out the victory in the bottom half of the frame.

Besides being the pitching hero of the contest, Grant Karnes was also the offensive leader with four hits in five trips to the plate. He also drove home a run. His battery mate, freshman Ty Holt, was equally impressive with three hits, a walk, and an RBI. Leadoff hitter Braden Skaggs had a hit, an RBI, and scored two runs. Brady Pettigrew had a hit, a walk, and a run batted in, as did Jackson Cole. Austin Mitchell had two knocks, including a double with an RBI. Zack Zitzmann also had a hit and a walk and Austin Bercher added a hit, two runs scored and two walks. Brady Morgan went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Courtesy runners Scott Holland and Josh Wright scored two and three runs, respectively. Bercher, Skaggs, and Morgan all had a stolen base.

In game two the bats went quiet on both sides as the two starters matched each other through four innings. Russellville lefty Trystan Newberry went the distance while GHS starter Mason Moore went four frames. Both hurlers gave up a single earned run. Austin Mitchell relieved Moore in the fifth inning and was tagged for an additional run, but it would be the difference in the game. The Bulldogs did not score again, being limited to five total hits.

Trailing 2-1 in the top of the seventh, Greenwood got a leadoff hit and a one-out walk from the bottom of the order to put the tying run at second base and the potential leading run at first. But the threat and the game ended suddenly with a tough luck sinking line drive to shortstop. Russellville’s Adam Snider plucked the ball off his shoe top before it hit the ground, leaving the GHS baserunners in limbo, allowing him to throw behind the runner at second for the game-ending double play, preserving the Cyclones’ lead and the win. Austin Mitchell was saddled with the pitching loss for Greenwood.

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