The Benton Academy baseball team is off to a great start this season, after winning two out of their first three games this season.
Despite rainy weather and wet fields, the Raiders were able to get the ball rolling on a good note by winning their first home game and season opener against Carroll Academy 5-0 on February 28.
"That was a great win for us," said Coach Steve Carr. "We pitched a pretty decent game that day by splitting it between J.B. Middleton and Arion Warren."
Middleton struck out 10 against Carroll, and Warren struck out four.
Following this first win, the Raiders moved on to play Park Place Academy on Feb. 29, where they fell 12-2.
Taking a lesson from the loss against Park Place, the Benton boys took advantage of the sunshine on Monday, March 3, in another home game against Clinton Christian Academy.
This game started out slow for the first few innings until the Raiders were able to load the bases on several walks and a single by Aubrey Pierce. Josh Dearman grounded out with a hit to 3rd base, but succeeded in bringing home Arion Warren, and changing the score to 1-0 in the favor of the Raiders.
The Benton boys were able to hold Clinton Christian to zero for another inning, and scored four more runs for the Raiders after several walks, stolen bases, and another single from Pierce. By using smart base running tactics and taking advantage of errors from Clinton's defense, the Raiders took the lead by 5-0.
As the Benton boys took the field in the top of the 4th inning, J.B. Middleton had already chalked up 7 strikeouts in the game, but was growing tired.
Taking advantage of the situation, Clinton Christian was able to score six runs, and turned the tables on the Raiders for a moment.
Coach Carr made the decision to place Arion Warren on the mound in relief, who managed to hold off Clinton's batters for the next few innings.
The Raiders were able to score another run in the bottom of the 5th inning thanks to a hard ground ball to shortstop from Zac Nesbit that brought Rye Yeates home, and tied the game 6-6.
With Warren adding up another three strike outs from the mound, Clinton Christian was unable to score in the top of the 6th.
When the Raiders stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 6th, all bets were off. The Benton boys used their wits to take advantage of errors on Clinton's defense and steal their way home. Several big hits from Caden Alexander, J.B. Middleton, Aubrey Pierce, Zac Nesbit, and Josh Dearman contributed to the five runs added to the scoreboard for Benton, who again took the lead 12-6.
The Clinton boys were not ready to go home yet, and despite several big hits and base running on their part, they were only able to score 4 runs at the top of the 7th, falling to Benton Academy with a score of 12-10.
Arion Warren was credited with this win in relief for the Raiders, and threw 8 strikeouts in the game.
Coach Carr said that the whie the Raiders are off to a good start this season, they still have a long way to go before they are prepared for district play in the next couple of weeks.
"The guys are all making good contact at the plate but we have a long way to go until we get where we want to be," he said. "We are working on their skill level to get them where they need to be, and we are pushing them hard as their coaches. We can be a much better team, but we just need to put in more repetition, more work, more practices and more games."
Carr added that they are hoping for the weather to improve soon which will help give the Benton boys more time to get in shape and prepare the Raiders for their first conference game of the season on March 10 against Porters Chapel.