PREP BASEBALL: Rogers Heritage scores six runs in first, hold off Springdale Har-Ber to claim season opener

Rogers Heritage Luke Askew celebrates closing out the game on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, at War Eagle Field in Rogers. The Rogers Heritage War Eagles hosted the Springdale Har-Ber Wildcats in the first game of the regular season. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today's photo gallery.(NWA Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
Rogers Heritage Luke Askew celebrates closing out the game on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, at War Eagle Field in Rogers. The Rogers Heritage War Eagles hosted the Springdale Har-Ber Wildcats in the first game of the regular season. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today's photo gallery.(NWA Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)


ROGERS -- The weather wasn't the only thing that made the 6A-West Conference baseball opener feel more like a game that was being played closer to state tournament time.

The atmosphere on the field and the near-full stands at War Eagle Field almost gave the game Monday that championship feel.

Luke Askew pumped his fists and began to celebrate with his Rogers Heritage teammates after he struck out the last two Springdale Har-Ber batters with the tying and go-ahead runs on base, securing a 7-6 victory.

"You've got the defending state champions coming in on game one," Heritage Coach Brian Walker said. "So they're well-coached, obviously, and they're good year-in and year-out and Coach [Dustin] Helmkamp does a great job.

"We're an older group. We wanted to get out the gate well, and we did. It was a fun game and fun to be part of and fun to play good people that are well-coached."

Heritage's bats were just as warm as the mid-70s temperatures at first pitch. The War Eagles (1-0, 1-0) sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and scored six runs against Har-Ber right-hander Gavin Moore, who drew the start on the mound as ace pitcher Ross Felder deals with an ailing elbow.

Spencer Mounce and Josh Hinds each drove in a run with a double, then JoJo Martinez made it 4-0 when he belted a double into the left-center field gap. Ethan Martin and Cooper Mann, the eighth and ninth batters, added an RBI double apiece and eventually chased Moore.

"We were fortunate to put together 10 quality at-bats in a row," Walker said. "I've never seen it before, but we got out of the gate good and got them into their bullpen."

Reid Felder took over on the mound and allowed only 1 run on 5 hits through 5 1/3 innings of work. The lone blemish came in the fifth when Mounce bounced a ground-rule double over the right-field fence and scored on a single by Askew to make it a 7-0 game.

That run became important because Har-Ber stormed back in the sixth. Luke Altom's bases-loaded walk drove in one run, and another came home when Ross Felder hit a bad-hop infield single to short. Luke Cornelison then belted a grand slam to left and made it 7-6.

"They did a great job," Helmkamp said of Heritage. "Their starter Dillon [Askew] pitched a great game, and they got some big hits and squared us up. They had 11 hits, so they took it to us offensively.

"Really, I thought we were fortunate on all aspects to get it back to 7-6. I'm proud of our kids for fighting back and having a chance to win it in the seventh."

FAYETTEVILLE 11, SPRINGDALE 1

Jaison DeLamar had three hits and drove in two runs to lead Fayetteville to a season-opening victory on the road over Springdale.

The Bulldogs (1-0, 1-0) erupted for six runs in the second inning and blew the game open. Charlie Graves, Landon Schaefer and Eli Patrick each drove in two runs, while Graves, Patrick and Ken Paschal each hit a triple.

Schaefer also earned the win on the mound as he allowed 4 hits and struck out 8 in a 6-inning, 86-pitch performance. Jack Pounders had two hits and scored Springdale's only run on J.P. Scoggins' RBI single.

ROGERS 7, BENTONVILLE 5

Rogers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, then held off a Bentonville comeback attempt to gain a road win over the Tigers.

Jacob Watson drove in a pair of runs while five other players had an RBI apiece for the Mounties (1-0, 1-0), who owned a 7-0 lead after scoring two runs in the top of the sixth. Bentonville (0-1, 0-1) made things interesting with three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh, and the Tigers had the tying runs on base when the game ended.

Jake Taylor threw 5 1/3 innings and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits to take the win for Rogers.


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