By John R. Schirmer
FAYETTEVILLE – With the state championship game knotted at 0-0 in the top of the fifth inning, freshman Ty Gordon doubled to deep center and sophomore Aaron Lott scored, giving the Nashville Scrappers a 1-0 lead over Shiloh Christian May 19 at Baum Stadium on the University of Arkansas campus.
From there, the Scrappers added 3 runs in the sixth to defeat the Saints 4-0 and win their second straight Class 4A state championship. Last year’s title also came at the expense of Shiloh, a 4-1 Scrapper victory.
The Scrappers (30-5 for the season) scored their 4 runs off 5 hits against the Saints (23-7). Nashville committed no errors.
The Saints were held scoreless despite 7 hits. They were charged with 1 error.
Scrapper senior Tyler Hanson pitched all 7 innings of the shutout. He gave up no runs on 7 hits and struck out 2 Shiloh batters.
Hanson was named the Most Valuable Player of the championship game.
Howard County Farm Bureau agent Michael Howard, a former Scrapper and former Scrapper coach, presented the championship trophy to Nashville and the MVP trophy to Hanson.
Scrapper runs came from Lott, Ouachita Baptist signee Chris Willard, Tristen Jamison and J.R. Middleton.
Jaydon Hostetler, Gordon, Willard, Jamison and Middleton accounted for Nashville’s hits.
The Scrappers recorded 2 RBIs, with 1 from Colton Patterson and 1 from Gordon.
Nashville left 7 batters on base.
Landon Brown, a University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, signee, pitched 5 innings for Shiloh, allowing 3 runs off 4 hits with 8 strikeouts.
Connor Clark finished the game, giving up 1 run on 1 hit and striking out 2 Scrappers.
With the win, Scrapper seniors have 101 victories and two state titles during their careers.
“It’s just an amazing feat,”
Coach Kyle Slayton said of the seniors’ 101-28 career record, an average of more than 25 wins and 7 losses per season.
“I’m proud of those guys,” Slayton said. “They’ve been our leaders.”
The seniors include Garrett Lance, Chris Willard, Tyler Hanson, J. R. Middleton and Chris Waldrop.
The Scrappers left for Fayetteville about 1:30 May 17 after a police escort took the team bus past each Nashville School District campus in a sendoff. They practiced that night at Fayetteville High School.
After practice, bus driver Matt Smith took the Scrappers to the team hotel, the Holiday Inn at Springdale, where Lance Pope cooked chicken and burgers for them on the hotel parking lot.
Friday morning, the Scrappers had breakfast at the hotel before going to Baum Stadium to watch some of the other games. Pope cooked hot dogs for them in the Baum parking lot.
The final practice was Friday afternoon at Fayetteville High.
The day wrapped up with Pope and other Scrapper Dads cooking steaks and baked potatoes.
Saturday, game day, the team had breakfast at the hotel before leaving for Baum Stadium about 9 a.m. From there, players went through their pre-game routine before first pitch at 10 a.m.
Slayton said returning to Baum is “as good a feeling as it was last year. A lot of teams that are back this year have the same team as they had before. We have seven new faces. To win 30 of 35 games with that many new players is just amazing. One of the biggest factors is that they were in the dugout last year and saw the excitement and saw it was a total team effort.”
The Scrappers “played their tail off” to make it back to the championship game.
Having the 4A state tournament in Nashville was “a big advantage,” according to Slayton. “We give the community of Nashville a big handclap for what they did for us.”
The stands were overflowing at Wilson Park throughout the state tournament May 10-12, and fans lined the fences on the home and visitors side of the field.
Nashville defeated Dardanelle, Central Arkansas Christian and Malvern to advance to the state finals in Fayetteville. “That semifinal game is the hardest one to win,” Slayton said. “Saturday [at Baum was] the icing on the cake.”