Marion continues dominance of Paragould at ASU
Sports Editor JONESBORO — When Junior Weaver coached the West Memphis American Legion baseball team, one of his hottest rivalries was with the Legion team from Paragould.
Weaver’s Marion Toppers are no longer part of the American Legion, but so far this summer, his most common opponent has been the Paragould outfit.
On Friday morning, the Toppers played Paragould for the fifth time in 2016, notching a 6-4 win to move to 5-0 against that team at Kell Field on the campus of Arkansas State University.
While the win was key, it could be argued that perhaps Marion (15-2-1 overall) overlooked Paragould, especially after beating the same team on its home field last Tuesday night 132 and 5-1.
The Toppers trailed 2-1 entering the third inning as starter Nick Alsbrook tried to settle in and throw strikes.
The West Memphis righthander fired 4.1 innings, allowed four hits and walked five batters, but was still able to post the win.
“When Nick’s mechanics are off, it’s all out of whack,” Weaver said of his hurler and regular third baseman. “I felt like he got better as the day went on, but it was tough for him to make an adjustment during the game.”
Despite Alsbrook’s struggles, the Toppers offense was up to the task, scoring five times in the last four innings of play.
Trent Johns gave Marion its first lead of the day when he chased in Cam Smith and Blake Daniels with a single in the top of the third.
Marion added on when Larkey Dotson singled and scored on a Cam Smith single.
The Toppers appeared to hit cruise control in the top of the fifth when Matt Fraser walked and Nolan Smith reached on an error with nobody out. Fraser came around when Johns reached on an error and Bryce Logan plated Nolan Smith with a hit for a 6-2 advantage.
However, a hitbatsman, a triple and a single ended Alsbrook’s day in the bottom of the fifth, which brought Nolan Smith on in relief. Smith retired the first two batters that he faced in the sixth to slam the door on that rally and walked one batter in the sixth, which was the only baserunner he allowed. It was his first save of the year.
The game ended after six innings due to a two-hour time limit.
By Chuck Livingston