JONESBORO — Jonesboro left no doubt Monday in wrapping up the 5A-East conference baseball championship.
The Hurricane blew out Searcy twice to clinch its first league title since 2017 and the No. 1 seed in next week’s Class 5A state tournament at Woodland Field.
Josh Hyneman and Brennan Payne belted back-to-back home runs to finish a 12-2 victory in five innings in the first game, which guaranteed the Hurricane the top seed in the state tournament. Four pitchers combined on a five-inning no-hitter in the second game as Jonesboro clinched an outright title with a 20-0 rout.
Jonesboro (24-4, 13-1 conference) will play the top seed from the 5A-Central in a first-round game May 13 at Woodland Field. Marion, Batesville and Greene County Tech are the other state qualifiers from the 5A-East.
The game-ending home runs were two of four launched by the Hurricane in the first game. Down 2-1 after the first inning, Jonesboro scored twice in the second to take the lead and broke the game open with a six-run third inning.
Hyneman hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning and Payne followed with a solo blast to end the game under the 10-run rule.
Sawyer Bentley and Cross Jumper also homered in the first game of the doubleheader. Bentley, who homered in both games, was 2-for-2 with two runs batted in and three runs scored in the first game.
Jake Henry Williams was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Jumper drove in two runs and scored twice; Hyneman finished the first game with two RBI; and Payne, Ty Rhoades and Will Barré had one hit and one RBI each, with Payne also scoring twice.
Hyneman kept Searcy (13-12, 6-8 conference) off the scoreboard after the first inning. He pitched all five innings, striking out four while yielding four hits and two walks. Reid Carpenter was 2-for-3 to lead the Lions and Nathan Holeyfield drove in both runs.
Payne, Bentley, Drew Batson and Cameron Clark combined to strike out nine batters while holding Searcy hitless in the second game. Clark struck out the side in the fifth to close the game.
Jonesboro scored five runs in the first inning and three in the second for an 8-0 lead. The Hurricane, the visiting team in the second game, plated 11 runs in the third inning and one more in the fifth.
Williams was 2-for-2 with six RBI on a pair of bases-loaded doubles in the first two innings. Bentley finished 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and three RBI, while Rhoades had a hit and four RBI.
Jumper was 2-for-2 with an RBI and three runs scored; Dawson Wagner had a hit and scored three runs; Rhett Hosman drove in two runs; Zac Day doubled and drove in two runs; Will Thyer scored three runs; Jack Cheatham scored twice; Barrett Waleszonia had a hit and an RBI; Payne drove in a run; and Maddox Morrison and Charlie Dominguez also had hits.
Jonesboro’s game Tuesday against Valley View was canceled because of wet field conditions. The Hurricane will visit Kennett, Mo., (16-6) on Thursday to close the regular season.
Batesville 9-6, Nettleton 0-0
BATESVILLE – Batesville swept Nettleton in a 5A-East baseball doubleheader Monday, winning the first game 9-0 and the second 6-0.
The Pioneers (18-8, 10-4 conference) scored six runs in the sixth inning to pull away in the first game. Batesville’s Gage Wood allowed only one hit, a single by Nathan Belk, while striking out 18 batters.
Nettleton’s Seth Bishop pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits while striking out two batters.
Batesville scored six runs, all unearned, in the first inning of the second game. Nettleton’s Kyle Tolley kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard the rest of the way, striking out nine batters while allowing 10 hits in a complete-game effort.
Ethan Duffel had the lone hit for the Raiders (10-16, 3-11 conference).