Bryant nips Sheridan in extra innings
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
LITTLE ROCK — Sophomore Cody Walker beat a throw to the plate by Sheridan shortstop Andrew Alderman who fielded a high hopper off the synthetic surface of Gary Hogan Field at UALR to give the Bryant Hornets a 2-1 win over the Sheridan Yellowjackets in the bottom of the eighth inning on Monday, April 17.
Walker, who entered the game at third base in the top of the eighth, worked a lead-off walk off Sheridan’s Matt Buie who had started the game. It was Buie’s first walk of the game. Danny Riemenschneider, who already had two of the Hornets’ five hits up to that point, got down a sacrifice bunt to get Walker to second. Ryan Wilson followed with a lined single to left center. Walker, who didn’t seem sure the ball would get down, hesitated and head coach Terry Harper stopped him at third as a strong throw came into the plate by Sheridan center fielder Kris Hurtt. But Hurtt’s throw allowed Wilson to take second on the play.
With one out, Sheridan brought the infield in and issued an intentional walk to Devin Hurt to load the bases and create a force out at any base. But they walked Hurt to get to Aaron Davidson, far and away the Hornets top RBI man — he had 33 in 23 games coming into the game — and leading hitter. On the first pitch, Davidson hit a chopper off the turf. Alderman charged and threw to the plate but not in time to get the streaking Walker.
For much of the game, Buie and Bryant starter Tanner Zuber dueled. Both pitchers gave up a run in the first inning then shut out the opposition the rest of the way. Zuber allowed just three hits, walked three and struck out 10. His third walk came to the lead-off man in the top of the eighth, Bryce Lunday, and Harper brought on Riemenschneider to relieve.
On a 1-2 pitch, Hurtt grounded into the hole at short for an infield hit, bringing up Freddie Flores, who had knocked in the Jackets’ lone run already.
It appeared for a moment that Sheridan had taken the lead when Flores bunted. Davidson popped out from behind the plate to field the ball but had no one to throw it to. The Bryant fielders were slow to react perhaps because they thought the ball was foul. Nonetheless, Davidson fired a throw toward first where first baseman David Martin and second sacker Devin Hurt were scrambling to get to the bag. And neither caught the throw. Lunday came all the way home from second before the homeplate umpire stopped play and declared the bunt had been in foul territory when Davidson fielded it.
So, the runners returned to first and second and, on the next pitch, Riemenschneider got Flores to pop out to shallow right. Dust’n Lunsford followed with a grounder to the right side that Martin ranged to his right to field. He bobbled the ball but got a throw to Riemenschneider, hustling over to cover first, who made a nice catch while getting to the bag first for the out.
The runners, however, had moved to second and third with Austin Davis coming to the plate. On the first pitch, though, Davis grounded out to short to end the inning, sending it to the tell-tale bottom of the eighth.
Sheridan had taken the lead in the first. Lunday walked and Hurtt’s grounder to short was misplayed. When the ball got through into left field, Lunday tried to catch Bryant left fielder Trent Daniel napping, racing around second and toward third. Daniel threw him out at third but Hurtt wound up at second. Moments later, Flores doubled to put the Jackets on top.
In the bottom of the inning, Hurt doubled to right-center with two out and Davidson followed with an RBI double to left-center. David Martin then smacked a single to right but Flores charged in and threw out Jake Jackson, who was running for Davidson, at the plate to end the inning.
Martin’s single by the way gave him a hit in seven consecutive at bats over four games. His streak would come to an end in the bottom of the fourth when his lined shot was speared by Sheridan third baseman Zach Wilson. Still, the string of hits had Martin’s batting average over the .400 mark.
Neither team threatened much after the first. In the third, a walk and a pair of errors had Sheridan runners at second and third but Zuber struck out Davis to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the third, Riemenschneider singled and Ryan Wilson was hit by a pitch with one out but Buie retired the next two on flies to the outfield. The third out came on a nice sliding grab by Flores in right to rob Davidson of another RBI hit. That started a stretch in which Buie and the Yellowjackets retired 14 of the next 15 Bryant batters which got them through the seventh.
In the top of the fifth, Sheridan threatened again when Hurtt singled with two down, stole second and took third on a passed ball but Zuber fanned Flores to get out of the inning. That was the only baserunner during a stretch in which Zuber retired 14 of 15 as well.
The non-conference win improved Bryant to 15-8 on the season going into a key league game at home against Little Rock Central on Thursday, April 20. It was the Hornets’ fifth straight win, matching their longest streak of the season.