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Sand Lizards KO Cards at regional

Loss ends Farmington season one game short of state by Mark Humphrey | May 24, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Mark Humphrey/Enterprise-Leader Farmington senior Case Enderland slides into home plate to score a run during the Cardinals' 10-7 first-round loss to Dardnalle during the 4A North Regional baseball tournament at Gravette on Friday. The loss eliminated Farmington from the postseason, one game short of a state tournament berth.

SPORTS EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of a series evaluating how local teams performed against top teams in the state. Farmington did not advance out of the 4A North Regional baseball tournament while Dardanelle went on to take second in the tournament and had a bye into the Class 4A State quarterfinals and lost, 11-1, to Brookland, a team which reached the semifinals.

GRAVETTE -- A tough 10-7 loss to Dardanelle, in which Farmington held the lead until the seventh inning, ended the Cardinal baseball season on Friday, May 5, at the 4A North Regional.

A six-run Sand Lizard explosion in the top of the seventh wiped away a Farmington 5-4 lead in a game prolonged one day by weather in the 4A North Regional at Gravette.

Dardanelle coach Phil Vega was impressed with the Sand Lizards' comeback.

"To be able to beat Farmington, which is an outstanding team that is very-well coached by Coach Harper, I was very pleased and proud of our kids for finishing that game," Phil Vega said.

Cardinal starter Cole Cantrell battled through early struggles, then blanked Dardanelle for four innings, but when he left the Sand Lizards pushed six runs across in the top of the seventh inning.

"Cole struggled in that first inning. I think that's the first time that he's really struggled in an inning and for him to come back and pitch that was a testament to him," said Farmington coach Jay Harper. "Cole's been our No. 1 all year and has done a great job for us as a junior. We're excited for him to come back."

Harper thinks the Cardinals must develop a little bit more depth at pitching

"We just don't feel comfortable with where we were at the end of the year. We need to develop some more depth and we will. Our coaches do a good job with that," Harper said.

Harper didn't think moving the game back one day because of a rainout on Thursday, May 4, affected the team negatively.

"We really didn't want to play in the rain. I thought that was going to be unfair to both teams," Harper said.

Farmington fell behind 3-0 in the first inning when Dardanelle's first two batters walked.

Dardanelle starter Chris Miller popped up for an out but Robert Millard cashed in on an opportunity by belting a 2-run double. Clayton Weatherford singled into right field to bring in a third run for the Sand Lizards. That brought Harper out to the mound to settle down Cantrell.

Cantrell responded by picking off Weatherford on a throw to first for the second out.

Creed Vega singled to get on base, but after Creed Vega stole both second and third on the same play aided by an throwing error, Cantrell struck out Restin Robinson to end the threat.

The Cardinals pushed a pair of runs across in the bottom of the inning on Case Enderland's double, slashing the Sand Lizards' lead to 3-2.

Cantrell retired the Sand Lizards in order in the second, but Farmington wasted a 3-hit performance in bottom of the inning, leaving two men on base. A base-running error cost the Cardinals a potential run with a man caught off base and tagged out at second.

Harper lamented the combination of mistakes and missed opportunities.

"Our kids battled hard today. We left 10 runners on. We can't do that. We struck out nine times. We can't do that. Our goal is to win innings. We only won two, we lost three, so you do that, you're going to lose games and they understand that," Harper said.

Farmington captured the lead in the bottom of the third.

Enderland smacked a triple into deep right center and scored on Zane Schmitt's RBI single to tie the game at 3-3. Will Hellard walked with the bases loaded to drive in the go-ahead run but the Cardinals left the bases loaded and settled for a 4-3 lead.

Enderland made an outstanding defensive play at third to rob Clayton Weatherford of a base hit to start the fourth.

The Cardinals added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. Kooper Beach singled into left center and Enderland walked to put two runners on. Schmitt hit into a fielder's choice with the Sand Lizards getting a force-out at second, leaving runners at the corners. Beach scored on a passed ball to make it 5-3, but the inning ended on a groundout to second leaving two runners on base.

Cantrell threw four straight scoreless innings after his inauspicious start before Dardanelle scored six runs in the sixth to take a 10-5 lead.

Farmington tried to rally in its last at-bat.

Beach beat a throw to first to lead off with a single. After a strikeout, Cantrell reentered the game to bat and smashed a triple deep into right center to plate Beach. Hellard scored Cantrell when he bounced a chopper over second into left field for a single, reducing the deficit to 10-7, but that was as close as the Cardinals would get.

"Our kids competed hard. Cole Cantrell competed hard, Crisman competed hard on the mound. I thought we did a pretty good there," Harper said. "That's a dangerous baseball team at the top of the lineup, they're dangerous and we knew that. We needed a couple of more runs and we just couldn't get the key hit when we needed it. We left bases loaded twice."

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