River Valley Tropics finished third in the state tournament held in Harrison July 26 and 27.
The Tropics entered the tournament as one of top few teams favored to win. The team opened first round play against the No. 1 seeded Hot Springs Lakeside and lost, 2-0. Korbin Polly pitched for the Tropics and went 5 and 2/3 innings allowing one earned run while striking out seven. Taylor Moudy led the Tropics at the plate with a hit and a walk for the game.
Tropics then dropped to the loser bracket and faced a very tough Pangburn team for the fifth this season. The Tropics won, 5-1.
Jace Hudson started on the mound for Tropics and struck out nine batters.
Tropics got on board first after Kamron Hurst walked followed by a Brandon Wolski hit and then a sacrifice fly by Hudson drove in run for a 1-0 Tropic lead. Pangburn answered with a run in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1-1.
The score stayed that way until the fifth when Enrique Magdaleno led off with a hit and later crossed the plate for a 2-1 Tropics lead. In the top of the seventh, the Tropics got the insurance they needed when Jacob Boles led off the inning with a hit, and with runners at second and third, Hurst smoked a single up the middle to plate both runs and a 4-1 Tropic lead. Hurst would score on a deep sacrifice fly by Wolski to make the final 5-1.
Tropics keep rolling in the loser’s bracket with a 4-1 win over North Little Rock.
Wolski was the winning pitcher for the Tropics throwing a complete game and striking out 11.
Tropics got off to a fast start with a lead off hit by Hurst followed by a fielder’s choice by David Johnson and a RBI single by Hudson chased home Johnson and 1-0 lead, However the big blow in the inning came on a full count to Matthew Ward when he hit a home run to straight away center field, giving the Tropics a 3-0 lead. Tropics added on their final run of the game after back to back hits by Wolski and Hudson, and a 4-0 lead. NLR would add a single run in the sixth.
With third place in the state secured, the Tropics where looking to make the State Final and avenge an earlier season loss against a very good Harrison team. The Tropics were pretty much out of gas, and thin on pitching after already playing three games in two days. Harrison led throughout the game and played flawlessly. Brett Wilkins was the losing pitcher for the Tropics. The Tropics’ highlights at the plate for the game were hits by Hurst, Johnson, Hudson and Wolski. Defensively Magdaleno made a nice 5-3 double play and Hurst made a good play in center on a base hit with a strong throw to the plate to save a run.
The loss ended the Tropics season at 27-8. Tropics ended the season as conference champs as well as ending the season third in the state.
“It tough in a tournament when you drop the first game,” coach Brandt Tencleve said, “but man did we ever battle and beat several really good teams. After that, honestly we were spent from a pitching stand point and just didn’t have enough left in the tank.
“Maybe if we had been fully rested we could have beat Harrison or Lonoke but you know they both are really good were very deserving,” he said. “I can’t say enough about our pitchers all year and in the tournament. Korbin Polly, Jace Hudson, Brandon Wolski and Brett Wilkins are college-level pitchers and showed it all year. Polly,Wolski, and Hudson threw their best games in the State tournament and that pretty impressive.
“I thought Kamron did an outstanding job at the top of lineup as well in center all year, and David led us in average all year long,” he said. “Matthew possesses some big-time power at the plate, and I thought Enrique and Taylor both did a terrific job handling the pitchers behind the plate. Jacob and Skeeter are both younger kids for us but both provided us much needed sparks. It has been a long year but a succesfull year.”