CONWAY – All season long, the El Dorado Oilers haven’t let early deficits bother them.
On Friday, that trend continued, as the Oilers scored five runs in the bottom of the first to overcome an early 2-0 deficit en route to a 12-8 win over the Fort Smith Sportsmen in the opening round of the Arkansas American Legion AAA Senior State Tournament at Central Arkansas’ Bear Stadium.
The Oilers (25-8-1) advance to face Batesville Saturday at 10 a.m.
Jacob Eubanks homered and Tanner McLelland went 3-for-3 to highlight an 11-hit barrage by the Oilers, who wasted little time in making their comeback.
McLelland got the first of his three hits by singling to center.
Baylor Brumley followed with a bunt single down the third-base line, and Eubanks reached on an infield single to load the bases.
Ashton Yarbrough then drew a four-pitch walk to bring home McLelland with the Oilers’ first run.
With the bases still loaded, Tyler Johnson drilled a double to the gap in left-center to score Brumley and Eubanks to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead.
Hunter Lawrence followed with a base hit to right to score Yarbrough to extend the lead to 4-2.
With runners at the corners, Lawrence stole second base for the first of his four steals in the win.
With one out, Rhett Richardson drove in a run with a ground out to second to make it 5-2.
The Sportsmen pulled a run closer in the top of the second, but the Oilers answered in the bottom half of the inning.
McLelland again got the rally started with a first-pitch single to left.
Two outs later, it looked like the Oilers were going to squander McLelland’s single, but Yarbrough ripped a double to right-center to score McLelland to give the Oilers a 6-3 edge.
The Oilers then padded their lead in the third.
Lawrence drew a walk and stole both second and third base to get into scoring position.
One out later, Richardson walked and stole second to put runners at second and third.
As was the case in the second, it looked like the Oilers were going to waste a scoring opportunity, but McLelland’s third hit of the game was a big one, a two-out double to right-center that scored Lawrence and Richardson to extend the Oilers’ lead to 8-3.
The Sportsmen cut the Oilers’ lead in half with a run in the fourth, but once again, the Oilers responded in the bottom half of the frame.
With one out, Yarbrough and Johnson drew back-to-back walks, and Lawrence followed with an RBI single to give the Oilers a 9-4 lead.
Johnson went to third on the play, and Lawrence stole his fourth base of the game to put runners at second and third.
The Oilers then got another big two-out hit, as Richardson laced a single to right-center to score Johnson and Lawrence to make it 11-4.
Leading 11-5 in the sixth, Eubanks put the exclamation on the Oilers’ offensive surge by hitting the first offering he saw over the fence in left for a solo homer, his second of the year, to make it 12-5.
Brumley (5-1) overcame the rocky start to pick up the win, scattering eight hits and five runs with four being earned in six innings of work. He walked two and struck out three.
Chase Brumley allowed the Sportsmen’s three runs in the seventh with two being earned. He allowed two hits, walked two and didn’t record any strikeouts.
Defense also aided the Oilers, who turned two double plays in the game.
McLelland, who made a diving catch and ran down two deep fly balls in left-center, had two RBIs as part of his three-hit day.
Richardson drove in three runs for the Oilers with Eubanks and Lawrence each collecting two hits.
In addition to McLelland, Lawrence, Yarbrough and Johnson each had two RBIs.