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Likens strong in 5A-West debut; Airedales split two 3/15/23
Likens strong in 5A-West debut; Airedales split two
By Kevin Taylor
Alma baseball coach Brian Fry was thrilled with his team’s 9-1 win over Harrison on Tuesday in the 5A-West opener for both teams.
Early run support helped senior left-hander Noah Likens settle in and pitch the first conference complete game of his career.
But Harrison rallied late to win the second game, 5-3, to drop Alma to 1-6 overall.
As was the case in two earlier losses to Pea Ridge and Lake Dallas, Alma was unable to get the big hit. Against Harrison, they left the bases loaded in the sixth and in the seventh, after Camden Curd’s RBI double cut the deficit to two, leaving runners at second and third with one out, the Airedales were unable to get the big hit.
Alma is scheduled to play Prairie Grove on Thursday, then face Howe in the first round of the Airedale Wood Bat Tournament.
Axl Spain and Derek Hatcher, who are hitting .368 and .364, respectively, led Alma in Tuesday’s opener. Sheppard Osborne’s two-out, two-run double capped a four-run first.
Nathan Machen was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force home the fifth run, and Hatcher’s towering double to deep center scored Branson Brogan with the sixth run. That was more than enough for Likens.
“It added a little bit of a cushion,” Likens said of the early lead. “I didn’t have to worry about having to hold these guys, I just had to play my game.”
“After that tough loss at Pea Ridge and the tough loss against (Lake Dallas) Texas, offensively they came out and put the pressure on them with pitching and defense,” Fry said. “They were a lot looser after that first inning.”
Spain’s run-scoring single extended Alma’s lead to 7-0, and Brogan’s RBI grounder made it 8-0. Alma got a ninth run on an error.
“It sets us off on the right foot,” Likens said. “We just have to keep competing each and every time we get on the field.”
Alma took a 2-1 lead after two in the nightcap on freshman Logan English’s RBI single — the first RBI of his young career.
But Alma stranded a dozen runners.