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PREP BASEBALL: Har-Ber takes 2nd baseball title

by Sam Lane | May 19, 2023 at 4:55 a.m.
Players from Springdale Har-Ber celebrate after beating Bentonville 5-1 in the Class 6A baseball state championship game Thursday in Conway. More photos at (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

CONWAY -- For the past five years, Ross Felder has watched the video, hoping to one day have one of his own.

Felder was there in 2018 when Springdale Har-Ber won its first baseball state championship at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville. Since then he's rewatched the video of the Wildcats' final out more times than he can count.

On Thursday afternoon at Bear Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas, he caught the final out of Har-Ber's 5-1 win over Bentonville in the Class 6A baseball championship game.

"To recreate that and now being here is just an amazing feeling," Felder said. "That's the goal at the end of every year for this team. To be here and to win it, I just can't put it into words."

Har-Ber Coach Dustin Helmkamp said he didn't think the University of Arkansas pitching commitment had his best stuff Thursday, but that wasn't going to stop him from pitching six innings for the Wildcats (28-6), giving up 1 unearned run on 4 hits and 4 walks with 6 strikeouts.

"I thought he gutted it out," Helmkamp said. "That guy's a competitor. He's been one all year long, and every big game we've been in, he's been on the mound. [I] wouldn't trade him for anybody."

Things nearly went off the rails for Felder and Har-Ber in the second inning when Bentonville loaded the bases with one out on a single and two walks.

The junior pitcher induced flyouts to left and right field from his next two batters, holding the score at 0-0 through the first two innings.

"[Felder] has a knack for doing that," Helmkamp said. "He usually doesn't walk people like that, but he was able to come through when we needed him the most."

Sophomore third baseman Luke Cornelison, who also has committed to Arkansas, hit an RBI single in the third inning to make the score 2-0 after a fielding error by Bentonville.

Cole Carlton and Dylan Gibson added to the lead with a RBI singles to make the Har-Ber lead 4-0 through three innings.

Har-Ber added a run to its tally in the fifth inning on Jeffrey Zachry's RBI single before Bentonville's Boyce Read made it 5-1 in the sixth inning with a single.

Thursday's win was Har-Ber's 14th in a row. Following a two-game series loss to Fort Smith Northside on March 13-14, Har-Ber went 23-3 the rest of .

"People kind of questioned us like, 'Where's Har-Ber at?' All these kids did was respond," Helmkamp said. "There was no panic. These kids just went on a tear. There were a lot of doubters, [but] not in our clubhouse. For them to quiet the noise inside our house and know what they're capable of and then accomplish it, it's special."

Thursday's win secured Har-Ber's second baseball state championship and first since 2018. But it wasn't the Wildcats first trip to the title game.

Har-Ber made the title game four years in a row from 2017-2021, not including the 2020 canceled season.

"Going there four times in a row and only winning one, you know, it was tough," Helmkamp said. "It's hard to get there. But once you get there, it's also hard. So getting there and winning instead of losing our third in a row, it's good."

 Gallery: 2023 Class 6A Baseball State Championship

Print Headline: Har-Ber takes 2nd baseball title


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