May 28, 2014 Edition

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The Walnut Ridge Bobcats completed their season as runners-up in the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament. Team members include (kneeling, from left): Luke Wall, Martin Crisler, Will Spargo, Cash Lee, Cole Hicks, Layne Ditto, Drake Berry; (back) Coach Derek Bramlett with daughter, Allie Bramlett, Preston Aaron, Drake Smelser, Lane Kennedy, Drake Smith, Chase Baker, Will Weir, Michael Bounds, Baron Estes and Jason Ward, assistant coach.
TD Photo ~ Ashley George

Bobcats are state runners-up



Walnut Ridge's Layne Ditto pitches to a Junction City batter during the championship game of the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament.
TD Photo - Ashley George
Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Bobcats' quest for a baseball state championship came up one game short with a 13-2 loss to Junction City in the 2A state tournament finals Friday evening at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

After giving the Bobcats two runs on two hits in the first inning, Junction City pitcher Parker Hammett allowed Walnut Ridge just one hit over the final six innings. The Bobcats also struggled defensively, committing five errors in the contest.

Walnut Ridge got on the scoreboard first, with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Drake Smelser's one-out single scored Layne Ditto and Cole Hicks, but Lane Kennedy was thrown out at the plate on the play.

A series of costly errors by the Bobcats allowed Junction City to tie the contest 2-2 in the top of the second inning.

Junction City took the lead in the fourth inning when Keegan Hanry led off with a single and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches. A double by Joe Lowe put the Dragons up 3-2. Cameron Cupp singled home Lowe for a 4-2 lead.

The Dragons stretched the lead to 8-2 with a four-run fifth inning and added a single run in the sixth to make the score 9-2. They capped the scoring with four runs in the top of the seventh.

Smelser, Ditto and Cash Lee accounted for Walnut Ridge's base hits. Smelser had two RBIs, while Ditto and Hicks each scored a run.

Ditto started on the mound and allowed four earned runs on seven hits, with three strikeouts. Baron Estes came on in the fifth inning and allowed two earned runs on five hits, with one strikeout, in two innings of work. Luke Wall pitched the final inning, allowing three runs on four hits.

The Bobcats finished the season with a 27-9 record and were the 2A-2 regular-season and tournament champions. They also won the 2A North Regional Tournament.

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