Win over Catholic lifts Hornets into 3rd in AAAAA-Central
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
The first time the Bryant Hornets played the Catholic High Rockets, they bashed them into submission, scoring 18 runs on 14 hits, half of which were for extra bases. When the two teams met again, the Hornets won in a walk, too — just a different sort.
Bryant managed just four hits but Catholic pitchers distributed 11 walks and hit two batters. With the resulting 8-1 win, the Hornets moved into a tie for third in the AAAAA-Central Conference with the Rockets. With the sweep of the season series, the Hornets own the tiebreaker as the regular season entered the final week.
And with the help of a 5-4 win by league-leading North Little Rock over second-place Conway, the Hornets’ hopes for moving up another notch and grabbing a No. 2 seed for the Class AAAAA State Tournament stayed alive. They trail Conway in the standings by one game. The Wampus Cats finish against a pair of teams still competing for a State bid, Catholic and Little Rock Central, while the Hornets close out against Little Rock McClellan on Friday, April 25, and Little Rock Hall on Tuesday, April 29. Both are out of contention for State.
Sophomore Travis Wood belted a three-run homer that helped secure Bryant’s win over Catholic. Sophomore right-hander Justin Wells, who improved to 4-2 on the mound, scattered five hits, walked three and struck out nine in a complete-game performance.
Wells surrendered singles in each of the first three innings but the Rockets didn’t get anybody past second base until the fourth when David Hum slapped a double to left-center, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single by Kyle Urquhart.
And error kept the inning alive and put the potential tying and go-ahead runs at second and third, but Wells struck out Derek Villimez to get out of the inning.
Bryant had claimed a 2-0 lead in the first without a hit. Catholic starter Andrew Emrich struggled with his control and walked five batters in the inning, forcing in both runs.
Emrich walked two more in the second but got away with it. But when he hit the lead-off batter in the third, he was relieved by Brandon White, whom the Hornets had victimized in the earlier game.
But White pitched out of a jam in the third, keeping the Hornets hitless despite the 2-0 lead.
After Catholic got on the board in the top of the fourth, however, the Hornets added to their lead. A.J. Nixon walked and stole second base then Travis Wood’s grounder to third took a bad hop off of Catholic’s Richard O’Brien for a scratch hit.
B.J. Wood followed with a sacrifice bunt that White fielded. But second baseman Brad Handloser, covering first on the play, couldn’t haul down White’s throw. Nixon scored and Travis Wood raced to third. And when Scott Peeler grounded out to second, Wood scored as well, making it 4-1
Wells walked White to lead off the top of the fourth but catcher Dustin Easterly, with the help of a quick tag by B.J. Wood at short, threw out courtesy runner Jason Tubbs trying to steal second.
Wells allowed just two baserunners the rest of the game, both on walks. And one of them was erased by a Bryant doubleplay.
The Bryant fifth began with a single up the middle by Wells. Todd Bryan sacrificed him to second then pinch-hitter Morgan Garner drew a four-pitch walk. With two away, Travis Wood lowered the boom on a 1-2 delivery from White for his second home run of the season.
The Hornets tacked on a run in the home sixth, too. Peeler walked, Andrew Norman doubled into the right-field corner and Zach Young delivered a sacrifice fly to set the final score.