LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For the first time, the road to the pinnacle of Arkansas baseball passes under the shadow of Pinnacle Mountain.
Joe T. Robinson is hosting the Class 4A East Baseball Regional for the first time in school history on Thursday with the championship round on May 6.
“It’s huge,” Joe T. Robinson head baseball coach Isaac Dulaney said. "It's the first time in school history we’re hosting regionals. Having postseason on our field is tremendous.”
In 2014, Dulaney took over a Robinson program that had just one state tournament appearance under its belt and was in the process of building its own field.
Now, the team is preparing for the postseason with its eyes set on making the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
“It’s just a testament to the kids and this community and how far the program has come," Dulaney said.
Hosting the regionals comes with some perks. Senior right fielder Chase Buffington was quick to point out how Robinson doesn't have to spend time traveling.
"It feels great," Buffington said. "The last couple of years we had to drive two hours and had to get here at 7:30 a.m. to get on the bus.”
Junior catcher Carson Waugh is excited about being able to get extra rest.
“It's going to be nice to sleep in my own bed and grieve ten minutes to the field,” Waugh said.
This year’s Senators squad went through some mid-season adversity, but ended the regular season on a five-game win streak.
“We lost it there in the middle of the season after a great start," senior first baseman Brett Wilson said. "We found it again the past couple of weeks. Perfect time to hit our stride.”
Junior pitcher Spencer Watson credited the team's grit for being able to get back on track.
“There were a lot of ups and downs,” Watson said. “But when the guys want to fight it out, we can. We’re not really scared of anyone who’s in our way.”
Robinson's run at regionals starts with a win-or-go-home game on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against Westside.
The first, second, third and fourth-place teams will advance to the state tournament at Lonoke High School on May 11-13.