Getting good pitching is going to be key for the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats.
And that’s exactly what head coach Randy Sandefur got in a 3-1 win against the Hot Springs Lakeside Rams on Tuesday.
Sandefur had starting pitcher Dylan Howell on a pitch count of 70 pitches to open the game.
Howell threw 75 pitches and got one out in the seventh inning before being yanked for Jake Sandefur.
"They had the bottom of their order up," Sandefur said. "We let him get to their ninth place hitter and he hit him pretty hard so we brought Jake in and he got the last two outs of the game."
Howell only allowed a run on three hits while striking out a half dozen and walking just two.
Evan Peters’ base running and Lakeside’s shaky defense allowed North Little Rock’s first run. Peters, who drew bases on balls, took second on a passed ball. His base running aggressiveness paid off. Peters decided to snatch third on the same play, and the catcher’s throw sailed into the outfield allowing Peters to score North Little Rock’s first run.
Danny Mitchell, who was pinch running for Alex Gosser after getting a one-out single, came in to score on Chandler Thompson’s double in the third inning.
Zach Rathburn scored on another Lakeside throwing error after he went from first to third on Howell’s single in the sixth to round out the scoring.
Sandefur praised the efforts of his starting pitcher.
"He’s got a lot of upside," Sandefur said.
Sandefur said he was pleased that Howell had some success after having a tough year last season.
Sandefur said his team played well in frigid conditions, but knows that the schedule is going to be tough. The Charging Wildcats find themselves in a new conference with few familiar foes in the 7A/6A East.
"We are going to lose a few games," Sandefur said. "There are a lot of good teams."
North Little Rock will have to get through Searcy, Mountain Home, Jonesboro and Marion aside from old foes in Cabot and Little Rock Central if they want to make it to the state tournament.
From there, it’s anybody’s ball game.