Chris Murray: Mayflower-Vilonia Benefit Game Set for Dickey-Stephens Park

In the wake of Sunday’s devastating tornado, which cut a swath of destruction across Central Arkansas, the Arkansas Travelers have stepped up and provided an outlet for a distraction for two of the hardest-hit communities.

Mayflower and Vilonia will meet on Tuesday, May 6, in a benefit high school varsity baseball game at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, home of the Travelers. Those two Faulkner County towns sustained incredible damage from Sunday’s storm. Fifteen people were killed as a result of the tornado, which was rated Thursday an EF-4 by the National Weather Service, with winds approaching 200 miles per hour.

Admission to the game will be free, though donations will be taken at the gates, all of which will go to benefit the communities. Additionally, all proceeds from concessions will go towards relief. Local banks will be on hand to take in and distribute the funds. The seven-inning contest is set for a 5:30 p.m. start.

The response to the disaster from around the state and beyond has been impressive in the days since the storm, but both Mayflower and Vilonia are looking at ongoing recovery that could last for years. Both towns are familiar with disasters, as the Exxon pipeline spill affected many last year in Mayflower. Vilonia was ravaged by a tornado on April 25, 2011, which left seven dead.

This high school baseball game will afford many in Central Arkansas with an opportunity to aid their neighbors, on a grand stage. Look for the generous Arkansas populace to fill up Dickey-Stephens and deliver a heartfelt boost to the victims of this horrific storm.


The Arkansas Razorbacks last weekend continued their head-scratching struggles against Auburn. The Tigers took two out of three games at Baum Stadium, claiming their fifth straight series win over the Hogs. Over that time span, Auburn has not been very good, while Arkansas has consistently fielded highly ranked teams. For whatever reason, the Tigers have had the Hogs’ number.

Trey Killian took a tough loss in Friday’s opener. Two errors led to a pair of unearned runs for the Tigers. Auburn starter Dillon Ortman pitched into the ninth inning, when the Hogs loaded the bases. Terrance Dedrick got Clark Eagan to fly out to end the game, picking up the save as Auburn held on, 2-1.

With bad weather on the horizon for Sunday, the teams played a doubleheader on Saturday. Due to inclement weather, this marked Arkansas’ fifth doubleheader of the season. The Hogs rallied to claim the opener, 4-3. Tyler Spoon lined a walkoff single to win it. Michael Gunn earned the decision, in relief of Jalen Beeks, who had another quality start.

Auburn jumped out early and took control of the finale, leading 7-0 after four at-bats, as Chris Oliver had a rare poor start for the Hogs. Blake Baxendale continued his hot hitting, plating two runs with a double, but Michael O’Neal limited the damage for Auburn. The Tigers’ starter went eight strong innings, and Auburn left Fayetteville with a 7-2 victory and another series win.

As a result, the Hogs once again dropped out of the top 25, and are now below .500 in the Southeastern Conference at 10-11. Arkansas completed its nonconference schedule on Tuesday with a 4-1 win over Missouri State in Springfield. The Hogs begin a three-game series at no. 10 Ole Miss tonight at 6:30. Saturday’s game is set for 2:15, with Sunday’s finale at 1:30. Ole Miss and Alabama are tied atop the SEC West standings at 13-8. LSU is one-half game back at 12-8-1.


Arkansas State dropped two of three to Georgia State last weekend in Atlanta. ASU remains solidly in second place in the Sun Belt Conference, four games behind UL-Lafayette, which is ranked no. 3 in the nation at 39-6. The Red Wolves host the Ragin’ Cajuns for a three-game series this weekend in Jonesboro. This is a great chance for baseball fans in northeast Arkansas to see one of the best teams in the country. An ASU sweep would put the Red Wolves in contention for a conference title, and would certainly beef up their NCAA resume.

UALR, which lost two of three at Western Kentucky last week, hosts UT-Arlington this weekend. The Trojans are in last place in the SBC, at 6-15.

UCA was swept by Northwestern State in three tough games last week in Natchitoches, La. The Bears are now 10-11 in Southland Conference play and are five games out of first. UCA hosts Oral Roberts this weekend in Conway.


Tags: , , , , ,