Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

GROVE – A three-run third inning and some excellent relief pitching by Josh Vanderpool allowed the Gravette, Ark. Lions to escape with a 4-3 win over the Grove Ridgerunners in the baseball season opener for both teams Tuesday. Vanderpool pitched the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, holding the Ridgerunners to two hits while striking out seven and getting the win. Typical of an early season game, neither team’s offense could generate many hits. The Ridgerunners had five hits on the evening while the Lions managed just three, with neither team getting an extra base hit. Both teams took advantage of control issues by the opposing pitchers to generate their runs. The Ridgerunners did just that in the second inning, as starting pitcher T.J. Stephens earned a walk from Gravette starter Logan Hendrickson to lead off the second inning. Two batters later, Kaden Livermore reached on an infield single and both runners advanced on a subsequent throwing error. With two outs, Tyler Crossley poked a hit into right field that fell just in front of Gravette’s Tyler Greenhaw, scoring Stephens and Livermore and giving Grove a 2-0 lead. The Lions would rally thanks to five walks issued by Grove pitching in the top of the third inning. Vanderpool would deliver the big blow in the inning from the plate, getting a two-run single to left field with the bases loaded to tie the game. Jamie Means would later score on a wild pitch to give Gravette its first lead of the game before Crossley, coming on in relief, got the final two outs in the inning. Crossley would hold the Lions in check over the next two innings, but Vanderpool kept the Grove offense under wraps as well. Gravette would finally scratch out another run in the fifth inning. After a one-out walk and a wild pitch, Greenhaw would get a bouncing single through the middle of the infield to give Gravette a 4-2 lead. Grove would not mount a charge until the final inning. With Vanderpool finally out of the game, the Ridgerunners loaded the bases after Buck Maples led off with a single and Zac Knox and Bryce Davenport followed with walks. After two strike outs, Gibson Russ worked another walk to score Maples. But Gravette reliever Dallas Kerley would get his third strikeout of the inning, earning the save in a 4-3 Gravette win. Maples was the only Ridgerunner with more than one hit, getting a pair of singles and a pair of stolen bases. The Ridgerunners will be in action again on Thursday when they travel to Owasso to take on the Rams at 3 p.m. Grove will close out the week by hosting Ketchum at 4:30 p.m. on Friday before traveling to Cascia Hall on Saturday for a 12 p.m. game.