Coming off its win over Jacksonville on Tuesday, the Benton McClendon’s Appliance Senior Legion baseball team is confident about their chances in the Zone 4 Tournament, which begins today at Bryant High School.
“I think we are going to compete,” manager Russell Goodwin said. “There are some very good teams, such as Bryant, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff, but we are playing pretty good baseball right now.
“We got some kids with a lot of enthusiasm and we ended up about .500 overall. This is a tough zone. Usually, whoever wins the Zone 4 wins the state title.”
McClendon’s will face Hope today at noon. Goodwin said it should be a fairly even game after the two teams split the regular season with both teams winning at home.
McClendon’s lost 12-5 at Hope thanks in part to an eight-run bottom of the second, in which pitcher Jacob Eakens gave up seven runs before being replaced by Coy Fitzhugh, who gave up one run before getting out of the inning.
Benton would go on to score two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh, while Hope scored another four in the sixth.
Both Jacob Keeney and Gene Dunkin drove in a run each in the fifth, and Keeney had an RBI in the sixth as well. Matt Freelin drove in both runs in the seventh with a two-run double.
Benton defeated Hope 6-3 last Monday and also has secured wins over Little Rock Blue and Little Rock Express, but was swept by Bryant, Texarkana and Pine Bluff.
“They are very good,” Goodwin said. “We have a lot of kids who are potential college players or are returning after a year in college.
“Legion is a lot stronger than high school baseball. Most of the kids we face are either 19 or seniors and in high school. We usually face sophomores or juniors.”
Bryant earned the No. 1 seed and will play Saturday at 10 a.m. against either Benton or Hope. Texarkana earned No. 2, and Pine Bluff was awarded No. 3.
Hope was fourth, Benton was fifth, LR Blue was sixth and Express was last in the league with the seventh seed.
Dunkin is expected to start today, and Goodwin said “he has done real well.”
“He was about five games and is a very good infielder and outfielder,” Goodwin said. “He is probably who we will start.”
Goodwin said Hope has good players because they draw from a pretty good area.