LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It’s been a busy month on the diamond in Lonoke. After the school hosted the 4A baseball state tournament, the Jackrabbits downed Ashdown 6-3 in front of a sellout crowd Friday to earn their first state championship in 54 years.
“For the last three weeks the town has basically shut down,” head coach Bryan Eagle said. “They’ve rallied behind us and they’ve willed us.”
“All the support’s crazy,” 2024 Razorbacks pitcher commit Steele Eaves said. “Even when things are bad, we can look up there and it gets our morale up.”
Things were rarely bad for Lonoke in the title game. The Jackrabbits held a 6-0 lead over the Panthers heading into the final frame, the first six innings headlined by a 2-run homer by Jaxson Ingle and Eaves allowing just one hit to that point.
In their last gasp in the 7th, Ashdown’s bats caught fire by hitting off Eaves four times and scoring three runs. But the future Hog’s slump wouldn’t get him pulled off the bump.
“When it got tight at the end I still wanted the ball in his hands because I know the competitor he is,” Eagle said. “He always responds to the challenge.”
“We knew Steele was going to finish it,” Ingle said. “Nobody’d we’d rather have on the mound.”
Eaves would beat adversity in the clutch and close out the game in winning fashion, the last out getting Lonoke out of a decisive loaded bases jam. The Rabbits’ second all-time title marks their program’s first since the moon landing.
“It’s amazing that they always respond,” Eagles said.” We’ve played 32 times and 29 times we came out on top. Toughness is what we pride ourselves on and that’s what they are.”
“You dream of this kind of moment and it finally all came to life,” Ingle said.
“For our seniors, I grew up with those guys and we wanted to make this last ride for them,” Eaves said.
Named 4A Final MVP, the Razorbacks’ pledge believes throwing a complete game to make history for his hometown will always mean as much to him as throwing for Arkansas.
“I’ve grown up watching the Hogs and it’s been every kid’s dream to go play for them,” Eaves said. “Being able to do this in my home state, I’m going to remember this one forever.”