Cats get by Tigers in pitching battle

Two future NCAA Division I pitchers battled it out Tuesday night as Conway eased past Little Rock Central in a 6A-Central Conference baseball game.

Conway (7-5, 4-1) picked up their fifth win in six outings by taking down the Tigers 3-1 at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock. Wampus Cats starting pitcher Beau Billeck, a Louisiana Tech commit, threw seven strikeouts while giving up three hits to spearhead the victory.

Conway Coach Leighton Hardin said he wasn't surprised by what Billeck did as he's become accustomed to him performing at a high level.

"Beau got stronger as the game went on," Hardin said. "A few hits got through, but he did a fantastic job today. He got up there and competed. He wanted the ball, he wanted to finish the game, and he did a good job of it."

Central (9-9, 1-4) kept the game close behind a productive outing from starting pitcher Luke Lorence, who's committed to play at the University of Central Arkansas. Lorence struck out nine, but ultimately the eight hits recorded by the Wampus Cats were enough to overcome his command on the mound.

Tigers Coach Landon Moore spoke to Lorence's consistency and the dynamic he gives Central.

"He's been solid all year," he said. "Anytime he's on the mound, we have a chance to win. When he pitches, it's normal for him to have eight to 14 strikeouts. He's being doing it for us, and we're glad to have him on our side."

In the top of the fourth inning, the middle of the lineup strung together a few hits to put the Wampus Cats on the board. Conway's Tucker Satterfield collected one of his two singles, then stole second. After a single by Thomas Ford put runners at first and third, designated hitter Will Thompson recorded a run-scoring hit to put Conway up 1-0.

Between Conway's Shaun Cover and Max Holland, the top of the lineup would produce for the Wampus Cats in the fifth and sixth innings to bolster their lead to 3-0.

"We found the barrel and had some really good at-bats," Hardin said.

The Tigers avoided a shutout by scoring their lone run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Gabe Lorence hit a double to deep center, and then he scored on a sacrifice fly by Brock Bichlmeier.

Moore said he was proud of how his team competed, and that he saw Conway putting Billeck on the mound as a sign of respect.

"If we're talking about respect, they came out and threw their best dude against us today," he said. "They knew they had to in order to win."

The win keeps Conway one game behind Bryant at the top of the 6A-Central standings.

"It's always a grind in the 6A-Central," Hardin said. "Anybody can beat anybody. That kid on the mound is really good for them, and we know we have to bring our best game every day or you're going to lose."

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