The Lonoke Jackrabbits are the 4A-2 conference regular-season champions.
Lonoke held off a late rally by Clinton to beat the Yellowjackets 8-7 on Friday to finish 6-0 in league play.
“We’ve played well for the most part throughout the year,” Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery said. “We’ve put ourselves into a good situation, going into the district tournament as the one-seed. That was one of our goals that we set at the beginning of the year.”
Early on, it looked like the victory and the conference title might come fairly easily as Lonoke jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The Yellowjackets battled back to pull to within one at 4-3 in the top of the second. Lonoke then scored twice in both the second and third innings as starting pitcher Mikey Shinn cruised through the third through fifth innings.
Clinton started making things interesting in the top of the sixth as it plated four runs on one hit.
Lonoke had a chance to increase its lead in the bottom of the sixth. Nick Graves led off with a double but was stranded at second base to end the frame.
In the bottom of the seventh, relief pitcher Christian James, who came in for Shinn in the top of the sixth, hit the leadoff batter, Harrison Lester. It was James’ third hit batsmen in the game.
Cody Martin replaced replaced James and loaded the bases but got two strikeouts, including leadoff hitter Daniel Beavers looking for the game’s final out.
“We played a great ball game,” Lowery said. “You’ve got to give credit to Clinton for fighting back. They made it interesting. We had to go take it.
“Clinton always plays us tough. You always get a little nervous when a team has a big inning like that but I had confidence in our guys to get us out of that situation.”
Shinn got the win, allowing six runs on seven hits. He struck out five. Martin got the save.
Lonoke finished with nine hits. Casey Martin was 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Also collecting hits were James, Graves, Nick Watson, Cody Martin, Savonte Rountree and Elijah Seigrist.
Cody Martin scored twice to lead Lonoke. Also scoring were Pierce Johnson, James, Watson, Casey Martin, Lance Dugger and Haven Hunter.
Lonoke will play in the semifinals of the 4A-2 district tournament Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Lonoke Ball Park. If they win, the Jackrabbits will play in the title game at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Lonoke will also play in the Class 4A East Region Tournament, which starts May 9 at the Lonoke Ball Park.