Through six innings, it was a pitcher’s duel between Coca-Cola and Greenwood First National Bank of Fort Smith.
The Bottlers then took command in the seventh inning, taking advantage of two Greenwood errors off bunts to score four runs in breaking things open. Coke went on to a 6-1 win in the first game of a doubleheader and also won the second game, 10-4.
"We were able to string some hits together," Coke coach Brian Fry said. "It started off with a base hit and then we lay a pretty good bunt down where we were just trying for an insurance run. … Then we strung some hits together and it was good to see the guys do that, put some good quality at-bats together there in the end and that gave Grady (Coleman) a lot of confidence going into the bottom of the seventh and it just seemed like he kept getting stronger and stronger as the game went on, he threw a great game."
Coleman and Greenwood pitcher Kyler Watson were locked in a back-and-forth game through six innings, with the Bottlers (9-6) hanging on to a 2-1 lead.
Then in the top of the seventh, Coke’s Adam Richardson led off with a base hit. The next batter, Jacob Northrop, laid down a good bunt but the throw to first wasn’t fielded cleanly, allowing Northrop to reach on an error. Coleman came up and put down a bunt of his own, and while running to first, the throw to get Coleman went into right field, allowing Richardson to score while the two players who sacrifice bunted were on the basepaths.
Those runners then scored on consecutive RBI singles from Matt Johnson and Garrett Chastain. A two-out RBI single from Ethan McNally later in the inning finished off the four-run inning.
"They bunted and we couldn’t throw their guys out and after that, it was downhill," Greenwood coach Randy Gardner said. "It’s a good thing about this summer, if you don’t make the routine plays, you see it happen then, then you understand why you don’t get to play in the spring because you can’t make those plays, so that’s basically what happened, plus you get a lot better."
Coleman then finished off the game by striking out the side in order in the bottom of the seventh. He gave up one run on four hits and struck out seven.
"He was throwing his curveball for strikes, that really helped him out," Fry said. "The first couple of innings, he left it up a little bit but after that, he got dialed in and was throwing his off-speed for strikes and that was the turning point. He was getting some pop-ups and he was getting some groundballs to the middle infielders there and that was the best thing that he could have done (Thursday) was just mix speeds."
McNally went 2-for-3 with both his hits going for RBI singles. His first RBI hit broke a 1-1 score in the top of the fifth. Coke’s first run came in the second when Johnson walked and eventually scored on a passed ball.
The lone run for Greenwood (4-6) came in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Jake Herrel doubled, moved to third on a single from Chris Sunde and scored on an RBI grounder off the bat of Max Higgins.
In the second game, Max Frazier got the win on the mound for the Bottlers.
Senior Babe Ruth
Coca-Cola 6, Greenwood First National Bank of Fort Smith 1
Coke 010 010 4 — 6 8 0
Greenwood 000 100 0 — 1 4 5
Coleman and Araiza; Watson and Herrel. W-Coleman. L-Watson. HRs-None.
Coca-Cola 10, Greenwood First National Bank of Fort Smith 4