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A new beginning

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


The Alma Airedales celebrated like it was 2018 Tuesday.  


Jacob Machen lined a one-out RBI single to center Tuesday night to give the Airedales a 2-1 win over Pea Ridge at Airedale Field. 


It was coach Brian Fry's first regular-season victory. Alma won a benefit game in 2020 (Ozark) before dropping the first five games to open the 2020 season, which was ultimately wiped out by COVID-19. 


"For those guys to come out and compete, it just means so much," Fry said. "Like I told Jacob, 'I wanted to cry with him.' 


"They've (players) been looking forward to it all (last) week."


Left-handers Noah Likens and Logan Taylor combined for 11 strikeouts, with Likens tossing four solid innings of one-run baseball. 


Taylor set down all nine hitters he faced while striking out five. 


"Those two guys tonight were just unbelievable," Fry said. "I told Logan after that base hit, 'You got us here; you gave us a chance.' 


"Logan coming in after basketball and throwing three innings was unbelievable."


Sophomore Derek Hatcher was on deck to throw the eighth, had the game been extended, Fry said. 


Alma, which went 0-27 in 2019, then started 0-5 before the 2020 shutdown, tied the game in the third on Hatcher's long double and Josiah Weaver's RBI single. After throwing a scoreless fourth, Fry replaced Likens with Taylor. 


The game moved along tied at 1 until the seventh when Kevin Mills was hit by a pitch to start the frame. A passed ball and Cameron Ray's second hit of the night, a slow roller to third, put runners on the corner. ? fell behind 0-2 before coaxing a walk. 


Three pitches later, Machen lined an RBI single to center to give Alma its first baseball victory since April 27, 2018 — a span of 1,039 days.  


"We have high expectations for ourselves,” Fry said. “We told the guys, 'You have to have high expectations to come out here and compete every day.' 


“Today, we did that.”


Alma will host Southside Thursday and open 5A-West play March 9 at Mountain Home.