Benton Panthers hold on for win over Catholic

BENTON — The Benton High School Summer baseball team got a taste of what it is like to play baseball for a living. With most of the team having played nearly five days straight, including shortstop Brooks Balisterri, and a bullpen and rotation burned up, it was up to pitcher Matthew Krikorian to last as long as possible in Tuesday’s game against Catholic High School.
Having already defeated North Little Rock 3-1 in the first game after Balisterri pitched a complete game, the Benton Panthers were able to hold off a 6th inning rally to defeat Catholic 8-7.
“All of our pitchers pitched complete games this weekend,” head coach Mark Balisterri said. “We had none of our top four pitchers available tonight.
“Matthew pitched Sunday too, plus he caught the first game, but he was about our only choice.”
In the top of the sixth, Krikorian allowed a single and a RBI double to lead off the inning. WIth two outs, Catholic hit a RBI single and was hit by a pitch. They singled again before Krikorian issued back-to-back walks.
Justin Vincent came in for relief but threw eight straight balls to walk in two runs and trim the lead to one run. Greg Pryor came in and struck out Catholic’s lead off runner for the final out of the game.
“Greg pitched in Fayetteville and our JV team played a double header Monday night, so we couldn’t use any of our JV team either,” Balisterri said. “We wanted to get as many out of Matthew as we could.
“He went five good innings but we knew he was tired. He got to where he couldn’t throw strikes.”
Tuesday’s game against Catholic was Benton’s sixth game in five days.
“It was kind of tough,” Balisterri said. “Matthew and Taylor went to the Showcase yesterday morning, but I told them you are getting a little taste of what major league baseball players have to go through.”
Balisterri said he was looking at one schedule and one of the professional players had to play 22 days straight.
“We hit the ball and we played good defense,” Balisterri said. “But we are showing signs of fatigue. Now we have a couple of days to get our legs underneath us.”
The Benton Panthers will begin their tournament on Thursday so that was another reason Balisterri didn’t want to throw too may people Tuesday night.
In the top of the fifth, Krikorian hit a single and with two outs, Coulton Lee and Pryor reached on back-to-back walks. Schmidt hit a two-run single and Jordan Britton was hit by a pitch. Blake Nations walked and Brant Stout hit a single to plate two more runs.
The Panthers had a 8-1 lead heading into the top of the sixth inning.
In the first, Vincent and Krikorian reached on back-to-back errors by Catholic’s shortstop. With two outs, Pryor hit a RBI single and Taylor Schmidt hit a two-run single.
Benton scored three runs in the first and five in the fifth. The Panthers had eight runs on six hits with an error. Catholic scored a run in the second and six in the sixth. They had seven runs with 11 hits and two errors.
Krikorian pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs (all earned) on 11 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Schmidt led the Panthers with two hits, a run scored and four RBIs. Garrison Roy had a hit, two runs and two RBIs. Pryor was 1-2 with two runs scored and a RBI.
Against North Little Rock in the first game, Balisterri pitched seven innings, allowing one run (earned) on two hits with a walk and nine strikeouts.
Carson Holloway led with two hits and Krikorian and Balisterri had a hit and a RBI. Grayson Chilton had a RBI and Vincent was 1-2 with a run.