Two tradition-heavy programs, the White Hall Bulldogs (14-6, 3-3) and the Benton Panthers (11-9, 2-2), met up Thursday for a district battle at Benton. The bats were blazing for both teams, but the Bulldogs came out on top by a final of 10-9.
In what was an electric game full of offense, both teams combined for 25 hits, with 14 hits by White Hall and 11 by Benton.
Benton was forced to use four different pitchers during the game, as the Bulldogs jumped all over their starter, Ross Carver, from the beginning. Benton's Carver only pitched one inning, and he walked two batters, gave up four hits and four earned runs.
White Hall took an early four-run lead, but Benton responded with two runs of their own after a Logan Easterling RBI double and a wild pitch by Layne Hartsfield.
Carver's reliever, Paulette, only lasted nine pitches before Balisterri went with sophomore lefty Collin Morrow. Morrow was the most effective pitcher for Benton, helping the Panthers take their first lead by slowing down White Hall's offense.
Hartsfield got the start on the mound for the Bulldogs, and the Panthers were able to locate his pitches to manufacture runs. Drew Chilton tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the second with a two-run homer that sailed over the left field wall.
After Morrow made quick work of the Bulldogs in the top of third, Benton applied more pressure on Hartsfield. Hartsfield walked three out of the first four batters he faced, allowing Benton to load the bases with one out. Preston Fleeman then gave the Panthers their first lead of the game with an RBI single. Chilton then followed up with his second hit on a double that scored two runs, giving him four RBIs for the game.
That would be it for Hartsfield, as he finished with six walked batters, giving up five hits and six earned runs. White Hall head coach Shane Harp elected to go with Chase Bryan as a reliever, and the Bulldogs got out of a troubled inning with an impressive double play.
In the top of the fourth, Wes Harp connected on an RBI single that inched the Bulldogs two runs closer to Panthers.
Scoring would pick back up in the bottom of the fifth when Colton Lane and Preston Fleeman recorded base hits to put runners on second and third. Carver then came through with a two-out RBI single to add a run to Benton's lead.
In the top of the sixth, Balisterri decided to pull Morrow in relief for Jesse Barker, but that would come back to bite Benton. In the sixth, White Hall used five hits, five runs and a crucial Benton error to regain the lead by a score of 10-8. Although Hartsfield may have had a tough day on the mound, he redeemed himself with a stand up RBI triple that scored three runs to swing the tide for the Bulldogs.
Benton would only be able to net one more run, and they would fall just short in a highly competitive contest. Bryan recorded the win for White Hall, pitching 4 1/3 innings, walking three batters, giving up six hits, one earned run and throwing two KOs.
White Hall face off on Tuesday against their crosstown rivals the Watson Chapel Wildcats.