AA Sox forge a welcome win over Hot Springs Village

Cade Dupree held Graves Sports of Hot Springs Village to one run on two hits over the first four innings then Konnor Clontz pitched out of a no-out bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth as the Bryant Black Sox AA American Legion team earned a much-needed victory on Thursday night at Bryant High School Field.

A two-run third provided the runs the Sox needed for the 2-1 win in five innings as part of a doubleheader. In the first game, the Sox played HSV tough but absorbed a 4-2 loss.

Bryant is set to play again at Benton Harmony Grove on Monday, July 10.

Hot Springs Village scored first in the nightcap. Dupree, who had worked a 1-2-3 first, which concluded with a strikeout, struggled with his control in the second even though he wound up striking out the side.

Race Tittle was hit by a pitch to start the frame then Montana Carden singled up the middle. A walk to Spencer Gracie loaded the bases. But, after a visit from Coach Nate Rutherford, Dupree struck out the next two and was a strike away from getting out of the jam unscathed. But a 3-2 pitch didn’t go his way. The walk to Michael Van Gilder forced in a run.

But Dupree struck out lead-off man Dalton McClard to keep it to that one run.

He would pitch around a one-out double by Dylan Anderson in the top of the third then around a lead-off walk in the fourth.

The Sox, meanwhile, broke through against Tittle, the HSV starter. Jeffery Hastings worked a walk to start the home third. Myers Buck sacrificed him to second then Clontz came through with an RBI single to right.

With the game tied, Clontz stole second then scored the go-ahead run on a base hit up the middle from Brandon Hoover.

The Sox threatened to get more as Hoover stole second and went to third on an errant throw. Dupree got a squeeze bunt down but it was too close to the plate. Gracie, the Graves Sports catcher, jumped on it and caught Hoover off third for the second out of the inning.

Dupree wound up at second on the play.

Kyle Kling came in as a courtesy runner for the pitcher and, after Jacob Coppock waited out a four-pitch walk, a wild pitch allowed Kling to get to third and Coppock to second. But, on a 3-2 count, Tittle struck out Zion Collins to keep it a 2-1 game.

It stayed that way going into the fifth. With lightening flashing north of town, Hot Springs Village rallied. McClard singled to start the inning then Spencer Turner walked. Dupree gave way to Clontz, whose first pitch was a wild one, allowing the runners to move up to second and third. So, an intentional walk was given to Anderson to load the bases.

The first out came on a pop to second baseman Diego Vargas in shallow right. Hot Springs Village then tried to get the tying run in with a safety squeeze. Carden got the bunt down but Hoover charged in from first, fielded the ball and threw home to catcher Cade Drennan for a force out.

Needing one more out, Clontz got Gracie to hit a one-hopper back to the mound. Clontz threw to the plate for another force out to end the game.

In the first game, Hot Springs Village scored early as the Sox contended with Anderson, a college baseball recruit from Jessieville.

Collins started for the Sox and, after some early struggles, would up going the distance and holding Hot Springs Village scoreless over the last five innings.

The damage was done in the first inning, however. Collins actually wound up striking out the side but between his first and second strikeout came a walk to Turner, a single by Anderson and a walk to Tittle to load the bases.

Carden’s grounder was misplayed and two runs scored. Gracie’s single made it 3-0.

The Sox got a run back in the bottom of the first when Buck walked and raced all the way to third on an errant pickoff throw. Hoover got him home with a one-out grounder off the glove of Anderson to Van Gilder at second, who got the out at first.

Dupree became the first of three batters that Anderson hit with pitches but he was stranded.

Hot Springs Village got that run back in the top of the second. With one out, McClard singled. He was forced at second on a grounder to short by Turner. And when Anderson drilled a double, Turner galloped home to make it 4-1.

Collins, subsequently, pitched around a one-out walk in the third then started a doubleplay that helped erase an error in the fourth. In the fifth, Hastings made a remarkable catch on a long fly to the fence in foul territory clubbed by Anderson. Collings needed just six pitches to get through the 1-2-3 frame.

In the sixth, a lead-off single by Gracie was erased when Chase Pederson lined to Vargas at third. He threw to first to double off Gracie and, a pitch later, Connor Cheek flew out to Dupree in right.

Collins worked around a one-out single in the top of the seventh.

Hot Springs Village had two doubleplays along the way as well. One erased a lead-off walk to Drennan in the second. The other came in the fourth with a grounder back to Anderson. He threw to second where Carden was covering but he wasn’t on the base. He threw on to first to retire Drennan. Collins, who had been hit by a pitch, thought the force at been made before the out at first and started to leave the field. Realizing that Carden had not been on the bag when he received the throw from Anderson, Pederson, the first baseman, fired back to Carden who tagged out Collins as he started towards the dugout.

In the fifth, Anderson allowed an infield hit — Bryant’s first of the game — to Vargas and, with two down, struck Buck with a pitch. A wild delivery moments later put runners at second and third but they were stranded.

In the sixth, Carden relieved Anderson and Hoover greeted him with a sharp single to center. With two down, Drennan beat out an infield hit then Hastings lined a base hit to right-center for an RBI.

Down 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Sox mustered an infield hit by Jacob Coppock. Buck grounded into a force at second but beat the return throw to first to keep hope alive for the Sox. He advanced to second on a passed ball but was stranded as the game ended with a strikeout.

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