Hornets complete sweep of Central conference
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
With Travis Wood going for Bryant and Evan Cox for North Little Rock, there was some reason to think that there might not be many runs scored when their two teams met on Thursday, April 28, at Hornets Field. After all, they were the top two candidates for MVP in the 2004 Class AAAAA State Tournament and, because Cox and the Charging Wildcats edged the Hornets, he got the nod.
And the game started out like it might be that way. Cox struck out the side in the first inning while Wood fanned four of the first six batters he faced.
And Wood went on to hold up his end of the duel. In fact, the Hornets’ ace, with a dozen or more scouts on hand, pitched a no-hitter, allowing just one base runner on a walk that was granted on a borderline 3-2 pitch in the third.
Meanwhile, the Hornets knocked Cox out of the game with six runs on six hits in the third inning on the way to a 10-0 romp in six innings that completed their unbeaten sweep to the second consecutive AAAAA-Central Conference title.
Wood wound up striking out 16 in six frames including the last 12 batters he faced after that third-inning walk. The only batters to put the ball in play against the lefty were Dean Larson, who tapped back to the mound with one out in the first, and Cox who was thrown out on a dribbler in front of the plate by Bryant catcher Aaron Davidson.
The Hornets, on the other hand, belted out 11 hits including three by Justin Wells and two each by Devin Hurt and Wood. Hurt drove in three runs and increased his team-leading batting average to .435. Richie Wood singled, as well, extending his team-leading hitting streak to eight games.
Already the champions of the conference and the top seed at the Class AAAAA State Tournament, the Hornets improved to 25-6 overall, 12-0 in conference. They’ll take a 14-game winning streak into their State opener against Cabot, the fourth seeded team from the East, at noon on Saturday, May 7.
Cox walked Richie Wood to start the tell-tale third inning. Wood stole second and when North Little Rock second baseman Jacob West couldn’t hold the throw, got up and raced to third. An out later, Corey Lambert slapped a bad-hop single over the shortstop’s head to make it 1-0.
Todd Bryan followed with a liner down the left field line for a double to put runners at second and third for Hurt who delivered a two-run single to left.
After Wells singled, Travis Wood lashed a triple to right to chase two more home. He then scored to make it 6-0 on a single to left by Davidson.
That proved to be it for Cox who gave way to soft-tossing Cody Bearden. Zack Young greeted the new hurdler with a shot that was speared by West at second. Courtesy runner Danny Riemenschnieder was caught off the bag for a doubleplay to end the inning.
But in the fifth, the Hornets added another run. Hurt’s bad-hop single was followed by a base hit from Wells. Travis Wood grounded into a force at second but beat the throw to avoid the doubleplay at first. Hurt rounded third and headed for home drawing a wild throw that enabled him to score easily.
In the sixth, Young walked and Richie Wood singled to right. Bryan Griffith bounced a hot grounder off the glove of new second baseman Clark Sims and Young scored. An out later, Bryan was walked intentionally to load the bases. Hurt was hit by a pitch to force in a run then Wells looped a single to right, bringing in Griffith with the game-ending run.
The loss dropped North Little Rock into a three-way tie for the third spot in the conference with Little Rock Catholic and Little Rock Central in a battle for the league’s two remaining bids to State.