PEARCY -- After Lake Hamilton held Sheridan's offense at bay for the first five innings of Thursday night's game, Dylan Horton's fifth-inning grand slam pushed the hosts ahead for good en route to a 10-4 win at Lake Hamilton Field.
"It was an overall good night," noted Lake Hamilton head baseball coach Matt Weigand. "The guys were aggressive as they played. Really, one through nine went up there to hit and ground out balls."
Both teams struggled to score until late in the second frame when Lake Hamilton's Cade Payton broke the stalemate and hit a two-run homer for a 2-0 lead.
"Everybody produced, one through nine," Weigand said. "I know there was a bunch of guys that had RBIs. I think Joey Kilzer led off the game with a hit and then ended up having two hits on the night. It was very productive offensively ... Even on the bases, I think we had 4-5 stolen bags, too, so it was really good. The pitching was really good; there were no freebies, they pounded the strike zone, and the defense played behind them. It was a very good night for all nine innings."
With two outs and a pair of Sheridan baserunners at second and third, Lake Hamilton's Spencer Gracie denied the visitors a third-inning run as the starting pitcher struck out Lawson Guthrie.
Neither teams scored in the fourth as Gracie retired the Sheridan side in order, but the Yellowjackets found their footing and opened up scoring behind Layne Flippin who reached third on Brayden Sites' early single before eventually scoring on Jackson Sorey's sacrifice fly to right field.
Gracie got the team out of the half-inning, and after the Wolves loaded the bases, Horton hit a grand slam, scoring Gracie, Braydon Clark and Joey Kilzer as the Wolves pushed out to a 7-1 lead.
"This is my first year here, and it's been a developmental period," Weigand explained. "The guys have been really working hard, and I just think last night kind of shows the work that those guys have been putting in. I think that could be a turning point for us. ... The baseball we played last night is the baseball we want to play consistently from here on out, along with the different mentality that we want to have."
Sheridan scored back-to-back runs, trimming the gap down to 7-3 before Clark scored on a sacrifice fly by Gracie.
Kilzer and Clark scored two more for the Wolves in the bottom of the seventh before Sheridan added one in the eighth to set the final.
"We just won a game, and you hope that's kinda like the turning point to get things going how we want to get them going," added Weigand. "That was against a really, really good team that we played and they were able to do that. I'm super proud of those guys, especially our seniors. I'm just excited for those guys to be able to 1. play at home, but 2. to hook it up and play lights out against a really good baseball team in front of our home crowd. We had a really good crowd there which I'll say this: most home games, we do. Our fans show up, they support us, that thing's packed out and we have a great atmosphere. Lake Hamilton is just a great place to play at."
Gracie picked up the win for Lake Hamilton, pitching 5 1/3 innings of work while giving up three runs off seven hits and four walks while striking out six. Clark finished out the game allowing one earned run off six hits and a pair of walks while striking out three. Horton led the Wolves offensively with a grand slam, four RBI, three walks and one run scored.
Clark, Kilzer and Gracie had two hits apiece with Kilzer scoring two runs and picking up one stolen base, Gracie added two RBI and a run, and Clark scored three runs with one RBI. Payton hit a home run and tallied two RBI, Lynch and Ryan Fields each finished with a hit while Fields scored once. Bardwell tallied two stolen bases with a run, and Matt Carmack showed patience at the plate by leading Lake Hamilton with three walks.
Lefty pitcher Layne Flippin started on the mound for the Yellowjackets and took the loss, pitching four-plus innings and giving up five earned runs off five hits and five walks while fanning four.
Lake Hamilton will host Little Rock on Tuesday at 7 p.m.