Hornets edge Hall, secure bid to State
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
Senior A.J. Nixon finished his final home game in a Bryant Hornets uniform in style.
Nixon, who has hit safely in 19 of his team’s 24 games, cracked a solo homer in his final at-bat as the team officially secured a bid to the Class AAAAA State Tournament in North Little Rock with a 4-2 win over the Little Rock Hall Warriors on Tuesday, April 29.
The Hornets, who improved to 18-6, finished third in the AAAAA-Central Conference with a 10-4 mark. They’ll take on AAAAA-West runner-up Springdale in the first round of the State tourney at 7:30 p.m., on Saturday, May 3, at Lakewood ballpark.
With his two hits, Nixon increased his batting average to a sparkling .420. It was his second homer of the season and his 22nd run batted in. The latter figure is tops on the team despite the fact that Nixon has batted lead off for most of the season.
The Hornets were clinging to a 3-2 lead against the pesky Warriors, despite the fact that starting pitcher Travis Wood had only allowed two first-inning singles. The Hornets had stranded runners in every inning including the three-run second that gave them the lead. But with one out in the sixth, Nixon cracked the first delivery he got from Hall starter Nathan Coker, just clearing the fence in left.
Justin Wells relieved Wood in the top of the seventh and retired the side around a walk to pick up his second save of the season. Wood improved to 5-2 with the win. He struck out nine to give him 73 K’s in 47 innings this season. He lowered his earned run average to 2.53.
Neither of Hall’s hits were shots. With Chad Broadway aboard with a game-opening walk and one out, Amos Sanders squibbed a grounder that got by first baseman Scott Peeler. Broadway went to third and scored when Chris Ison looped a single in front of Nixon in right. Sanders went to third and scored when Ison broke from second and got into a rundown before being tagged out to end the inning.
After the Hornets left the bases loaded in the first, Wood struck out the side in the second. With the help of some shoddy fielding by the Warriors, the Hornets gained the lead in the second. A one-out single by Todd Bryan, who had two hits in the game, got things started. The speedy Bryan swiped second. Wells followed with a sharp grounder up the middle that was speared by Coker on a fine play. But Coker’s throw to first was wild and Bryan scored. With two down, Nixon sliced a fly to right that was misplayed. Wells scored and Nixon reached third. He scored easily when Travis Wood lined a triple to left-center, giving Bryant the lead.
The Hornets left two on in the third and fifth and wasted a lead-off single by Korey Hunter in the fourth as Coker kept wriggling off the hook.
Wood, meanwhile, issued a one-out walk in the third but, on a hit-and-run, Anthony Robinson hit a liner to right that Nixon charged in and grabbed, throwing to first for a doubleplay.
Wood worked around an error in the fourth and was supported by a eye-popping play at short by Wells off a hard-hit ball off Wood’s glove. Wells has committed just one error as the starting shortstop this season.
In the sixth, Broadway walked for the third time but catcher Dustin Easterly gunned him down as he tried to steal second.