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Pioneers fall in state semi-finals to end season

It was a beautiful Saturday as the Batesville Pioneers returned to the diamond for their biggest game of the year, looking to upset the defending state champion Van Buren Pointers and secure a trip to the State finals. After a victory on Thursday over El Dorado 8-1 and Friday’s 13-8 win over Sylvan Hills, the stakes were even higher on Saturday with a spot in the state championship on the line. 

After a red-hot offensive attack in the first two games, the Pioneers would come out aggressive as senior John Thomas Morgan would draw a two-out walk in the top of the first. Senior Gage Wood would then single to right-center field, and Morgan would get the signal to head home as he rounded third, but the Pointers were able to make the play at the plate and hold the Pioneers scoreless in their opening frame.  

In the bottom of the inning, the Pointer offense would waste little time getting to freshman starter Mark Brissey scoring the first two runs of the game on back-to-back singles with one out. In the top of the second, the Pioneers would even up the ballgame as Brissey would walk with one out, courtesy ran for by senior Dayshaun Brown who would advance to third on an error. Junior Beau Baxter would reach on a walk and then advance to third while Brown crossed the plate for the first Pioneer run on a Pointer wild pitch. Baxter would then find his way across the plate on a senior Soloman Nast single to center evening the score at two. 

Van Buren would once again come out swinging in the bottom of the second as they would take back the lead on two runs in the inning. After being held scoreless in the top of the third, the Pioneers would see their deficit grow as Van Buren would once again get to Brissey and Pioneer relievers Juniors Boston Hall and Luke Brissey, striking for four runs and growing their lead to six over Batesville. 

The Pioneers would draw a run closer in the fourth as Wood would lead off with a double, be advanced on a senior Jack Lanier groundout and score on a Mark Brissey groundout to lessen the deficit to five. 

That would be all the Pioneers could muster against the Van Buren pitchers as they were held scoreless for the rest of the game, and the Pointers would tack on four more runs to defeat the Pioneers and end their season by a final of 12 to 3. 

Held to just four hits on the day, the Pioneers offensively would see two of those from Wood who scored a run as well, one hit from senior Ty Rush, an RBI and hit from Mark Brissey, and RBI single for Nast with Brown plating the other Pioneer run.

Pitching wise for Batesville Mark Brissey would go 2.1 innings with four hits given up, three walks, three strikeouts, and seven earned runs on the day. Hall would account for two hits and an earned run. Luke Brissey would go 2.2 innings with two strikeouts, just two hits, five walks, and three earned runs. Freshman Cale Glasgow would go .1 innings and sophomore Auggie Gray would do the same in the final inning of work.

The loss would signal an end to a fantastic season for the Pioneers as including the two victories in the state tournament, the Pioneers would close the season at 21-8 (9-5) and would be the highest-seeded team to reach the state semi-finals with the bigger schools of Van Buren, Marion, and Sheridan as the other semi-finalists. 

The Pioneers have eight graduating seniors on the squad including Soloman Nast, Ty Rush, Caleb Teague, Wes Lange, Gage Wood, Jack Lanier, John Thomas Morgan, and Dayshaun Brown.

Article by Wes Gwaltney

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