Bryant’s turn vs. Pine Bluff
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).
MOUNTAIN HOME — In 2006, the Bryant Black Sox AAA American Legion team was the defending State champions. They won the Zone 4 regular-season title then added a District Tournament title, edging Pine Bluff Simmons First National Bank in key games during both runs including the championship game of the District tourney. But Pine Bluff went on to win the State title, beating Bryant in the finals.
Fast forward to 2007. Bryant and Pine Bluff again battled throughout the season with the Sox managing to tie the Bankers for the regular-season league crown then taking them to the winner-take-all final in the District Tournament before Pine Bluff claimed the title. They figured to meet again at State but, this time, it was in the winners bracket finals as the last two unbeaten teams in the tournament.
It was Bryant’s turn.
In a classic marathon that went 11 innings, the Sox extracted an 8-7 victory on Sunday, Aug. 5, to earn a spot in the championship round. They were set to play Jonesboro in one semifinal on Monday with the title round on Tuesday against the survivor of Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Fayetteville.
Jake Jackson led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a single, stole second then scored on a base hit to right-center by Aaron Davidson to make the Sox winners and send Pine Bluff into the losers bracket to fight for its life in its bid to repeat.
Right-hander Tyler Sawyer pitched six innings of four-hit relief, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced after Pine Bluff tied it in the eighth to earn the victory. He walked just one and struck out eight and only one of the two runs he allowed was earned.
Jackson, Joey Winiecki and Devin Hurt each had three hits for the Sox with Hurt driving in three runs and socking a solo homer.
Bryant broke a 5-5 tie with two runs in the sixth. Trent Daniel started the uprising with a one-out single then scored all the way from first when Ryan Wilson’s grounder got past the shortstop and into the outfield. Wilson wound up at third and scored moments later on a single by Joey Winiecki.
Sawyer, on in relief of Wilson, gave up an RBI double in the top of the inning but then held Pine Bluff without a hit until the eighth when, with one out, Taylor Simmons doubled and, an out later, Ben Fox beat out an infield hit to bring him home. A late errant throw to first allowed Fox to take second and he scored the tying run from there on a base hit by Jesse Blackstock.
Sawyer then retired nine in a row before issuing a two-out walk in the top of the 11th. But he finished that inning off with a strikeout to set up the game-winning rally in the bottom of the frame.
Pine Bluff took a 2-0 lead early with the help of three first-inning errors by the Sox. Bryant got on the board in the home first when Jackson doubled and scored on a single by Hurt.
A walk and a long double by Brooks Taylor added a run to Pine Bluff’s lead in the third — it was the only earned run the Bankers got against Wilson. An error, a balk and a base hit made it 4-1 in the top of the fourth.
Bryant bounced back with two in the bottom of the inning starting with Hurt’s blast to left. An out later, Sawyer doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a grounder to the right side by Tyler Pickett.
Wilson pitched a scoreless fifth and the Sox took the lead in their turn. Singles by Daniel and Winiecki set the table. Jackson sacrificed then Davidson walked to load the bases. Hurt drew a free pass to force in the tying run and Jordan Knight came through with a sacrifice fly to put the Sox ahead.
Matty Johnson, who had three hits for Pine Bluff, led off the sixth with a double and, after Simmons walked and Sawyer came in to relieve, Cory Dejarnette doubled to tie the game in the sixth.