Uncharacteristically, the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats lost two games in a row last week but bounced back Monday with a decisive win.
The first was a 6-5 setback to Sylvan Hills last Thursday. The next day, the Wildcats (12-5) lost a 7A-Central contest at Little Rock Catholic, 1-0. On Monday, they traveled to Fort Smith Northside and blanked the Grizzlies, 12-0, to move their conference record to 4-1.
“We had two tough games against two good teams,” North Little Rock Coach Brock Moore said. “We lead 5-1 going into the seventh inning, but couldn’t overcome some walks, bloops and a grand slam. The Catholic game was a true definition of a pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers pitched a great game.”
At Catholic last Friday, Evan Hiatt notched the win while Tucker Sparks took the loss. Hiatt’s line was 11 strikeouts, three hits and one walk. Sparks struck out 12, gave up three hits, walked none and had no earned runs. Catholic’s run came in the second on two singles and an error.
“Both pitchers kept the offense at bay,” Moore said. “It was an absolute pitchers’ duel and was fun to watch and frustrating at the same time.”
Against Sylvan Hills, the Wildcats notches all five runs in the bottom of the fourth and led 5-1 before the Bears rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh. North Little Rock outhit Sylvan Hills, 7-6, and was paced by Zac Freeman and Owen Stuckey with two apiece.
North Little Rock rebounded with the 12-0 triumph over Northside. Stuckey notched the shutout by giving up one hit, walking no batters and recording two strikeouts. He yielded the one hit in the first to the Grizzlies’ leadoff batter but silenced the bats after that.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats piled up 17 hits and were paced by Stuckey’s and Drew Menard’s three hits apiece. Nick Butter, Ryan Maloch and Westen McGhee added two hits apiece.
“We played well,” Moore said. “Our offense came together and that was a big boost.”
The Wildcats enter a stretch of important conference games and host Bryant and Cabot on Thursday and Tuesday, respectively. Bryant lead the conference at 5-0 while Cabot is also 4-1.
“We have a tough week ahead,” Moore said. “We don’t have a choice but to be ready and guarantee we will.”