Patiently, Sox subdue Searcy to open State
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting 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
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — You’ve got to throw strikes against the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team. They have shown this season, they will make a pitcher work deep in the count and still get their hits if they groove one and the result is often a weary hurler late in a game that they can batter into submission.
The formula held true in the team’s opener in the 2008 State tourney at DeJanis Memorial Field in Vince DeSalvo Stadium, Burns Park on Friday, Aug. 1.
In 5 2/3 innings, the Sox waited out nine walks against Searcy Crain Team starter Anthony Dillon. They grabbed a 4-0 lead in the fourth then blew out the game with four more in the sixth and the seventh, respectively, to earn a 12-2 run-rule win.
The Sox were set to play the Fayetteville Lindsey and Associates Dodgers in the second round on Saturday, Aug. 2, in a rematch of the 2007 finals.
Table-setter Garrett Bock did his job, reaching base in four of five plate appearances including three hits, scored three times and drove in a run to spark the offense.
And right-hander Drew Ransdell bounced back from a rough start in District Tournament play in Pine Bluff to limit Searcy to the two unearned runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. Ben Wells finished and earned a save.
Ransdell, who was chosen to start instead of Bryant’s ace lefty Trent Daniel, opened by working around an error and a hit batsman in the first. He gave up a single in the second but a doubleplay got him out of the inning.
“I thought he set the tone for the game,” declared Sox manager Craig Harrison. “I told the team, as a coach, you have decisions to make and the book says — whoever wrote ‘the book’ — you throw your ace in the first game and you work your way down. We’ve always thought that you match up, and I thought we could match up with Drew tonight and Trent against Fayetteville with all the lefties they have in the lineup. We took a chance but it really wasn’t that big of a chance with a guy that’s 8-2, now 9-2.”
The nine wins is a team record for first-year pitchers with the Sox. Ransdell pitched for the Junior team in 2007 as a 16-year-old.
“The only bad inning he had was when he walked one and hit one to start the (fifth) inning and we didn’t make a couple of plays,” Harrison noted.
An error and a groundout produced Searcy’s first run. The next batter struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Catcher Tyler Pickett threw to Michael Haydon, his first baseman, for what would’ve been the third out but Haydon was off the bag. He tried to swipe a tag on the baserunner as he went by and, initially, the Sox got the call for the third out. On appeal, however, it was ruled the tag missed and Searcy had its second run.
Called back to the mound, Ransdell coolly retired the next batter on a tap to Haydon.
A one-out infield hit by Bock started the subsequent uprising. Pickett walked and, after a wild pitch, Tyler Sawyer plated a run with a sacrifice fly. Dillon appeared to be out of the inning when he got David Guarno to bounce to third but the ball was booted and Pickett scored to make it 6-2. A pitch later, Jordan Knight blasted a two-run homer.
Dillon walked two more then was pulled in favor of Matt Lincoln.
“We made their guy throw a lot of pitches,” Harrison noted. “He was at 107 going into the sixth (finishing at 136 pitches). They left him out there and we got four more. We left some guys on early but we kept saying, ‘You’ve got to keep fighting it. The guy’s an off-speed pitcher, he’s throwing a lot of junk.’ He threw 3-1 curveballs, 2-1 curveballs and when he couldn’t get them over, we were taking them and that got him really behind in the count and we drew some walks.”
Bryant broke up the scoreless game in the fourth when Dillon walked Kaleb Jobe. Daniel bounced into a force but Haydon grounded a single into right and Justin Blankenship pounded the gap for an RBI double.
Bock singled up the middle to make it 2-0 and, after Sawyer walked to load the bases, Searcy shortstop Kyle Taylor dropped a pop that could’ve ended the inning, allowing Blankenship and Bock, sprinting all the way from second, to come home.
Bryant made it a run-rule win with a four-run seventh. Consecutive singles by Blankenship, Bock, Pickett and Sawyer produced a run. Guarno walked to force in a second and Jobe walked to force in another. Daniel followed with a grounder to third. With one out, Justin Drain had to throw home to try to cut off the game-ending run but his throw was too high for catcher Roger Glaude and Sawyer’s run finished it.