By Rob Patrick
Texarkana Razorbacks catcher Chase Rico had a rough day Saturday at Bryant High School Field. After[more] catching a 15-5 6A-South Conference win over the Pine Bluff Zebras on Friday night, he was behind the plate on Saturday afternoon against the Hornets and, repeatedly, pitches in the dirt were ricocheting off his body this way and that. In all, there were nine wild pitches and they figured into all but one of Bryant’s scoring innings.
The Hornets took advantage with nine hits for an 11-1 win in six innings to improve to 14-2 overall this season.
Right-hander Nate Rutherford came within a strike of pitching a shutout. The lone Texarkana run was unearned. He fanned five, walked two and allowed six hits.
Bryant was led by Jordan Taylor, Josh Pultro and Blain Jackson with two hits each. Hayden Daniel provided the game-breaking blow, a two-run single to highlight a five-run fifth. He also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the three-run third.
Lefty Trey Jeans absorbed the loss for the Razorbacks, who dropped to 4-10 on the season.
The Hornets and the Hogs will be conference foes next season when the 6A and 7A classifications reshuffle as part of reclassification.
Rutherford worked a 1-2-3 first inning, fanning two. His teammates grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the inning. Tyler Nelson served a single into left and stole second. Jean balked him to third and, as Hayden Lessenberry was drawing a walk, the initial wild pitch allowed him to score.
Tyler Green, running for Lessenberry took second on another wild pitch and scored on a single by right by Taylor. Pultro ripped a double to right-center then Jean got a visit from his coach.
Whatever was said worked for a while as Jean retired the next three batters on a pair of strikeouts and a foul out to lead Taylor and Pultro stranded. And he retired the side in order in the second.
Texarkana’s Jackson Murphy and Tevin Tosh opened the top of the second with singles but Rutherford retired the next three to keep the Hogs off the board.
In the third, however, Cole Harris beat out an infield hit for the Razorbacks. Rutherford fanned Jarod Brown then got Jeans to bounce one up the middle that Bryant second baseman Ozzie Hurt fielded. Hurt made a stab at stepping back to force Harris then fired to first for what looked like an inning-ending doubleplay. But the umpire ruled that Hurt didn’t contact that base and that Harris was safe.
That brought up Chase Sealy, the three-hole hitter, who pulled a grounder to the left of Taylor at third. With a diving attempt, Taylor got a piece of the ball, which ricocheted to Trevor Ezell in the hole at short. Ezell tried to rifle a throw to first in time to retire Sealy to end the inning but the throw was late and errant.
Though the ball didn’t get far from first baseman Blain Jackson, it was enough that Harris was able to sprint home to make it 2-1.
Sealy subsequently stole second to get the potential tying run in scoring position but Rutherford got Murphy, the Hogs’ clean-up hitter to bounce to Jackson at first to end the inning with the Hornets still on top.
Bryant trumped that uprising with one of its own in the bottom of the third. Lessenberry, who walked all four times he came to the plate, opened the inning with a free pass. Green came in to run and, on a wild pitch that stung Rico, he not only took second but raced to third. Taylor cleaned up with another RBI single.
Another pair of wild pitches allowed Taylor to reach third with Pultro at the plate. Pultro brought him home with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
The inning continued when Dylan Cross walked and Jackson was hit by a pitch. Yet another wild pitch put runners at second and third for Daniel, who smacked his sacrifice fly to cap the inning.
Rutherford worked around a two-out walk in the top of the fourth and so did Jean in the bottom of the inning but, while Dylan Silvey, the batter the Bryant hurler walked, got no further than first, Lessenberry (Green) took second on another wild pitch then stole third when Jean failed to check on him before a pitch to Taylor.
Though he got Taylor to bounce to second to end the inning, the onslaught would resume in the fifth with the Razorbacks contributing to their woes with three errors. Pultro singled to open the frame. Cross bounced to third and a relay to second to try to get a force was pulled second baseman Andrew Jester off the bag. Jackson came up to bunt and got one down so well, he got a single out of it to load the bases.
That set things up for Daniel, who pulled a single into left to plate Pultro and Cross, expanding the lead to 7-1.
Austin Caldwell came in to run for Jackson and when Jean tried to pick him off, the throw was wild. Caldwell sprinted to third then scored as Brown failed to pick the ball up cleanly in center. Daniel followed around to third then scored when Ezell’s grounder to third took a bad hop past Murphy, making it 9-1.
Ezell stole his way to third and scored when Nelson grounded out to second.
In the top of the sixth, Murphy led off with a single but he was erased as the Hornets turned a ‘round-the-horn doubleplay on Tosh’s grounder to Taylor at third. Brett Rhinehard drew a walk but Silvey grounded to Jackson at first to end the inning.
Pultro led off the bottom of the inning with a grounder to the left of Sealy at short off new pitcher Hunter Sanderson. Sealy booted it then Sanderson unleashed a pair of wild pitches and, with one out, Jackson stroked a liner to left-center for a game-ending RBI single.
The Hornets return to 7A/6A-Central Conference action Tuesday when they host Russellville, one of the two teams tied with Bryant for first place.
BRYANT 11, TEXARKANA 1
Razorbacks ab r h bi Hornets ab r h bi
Brown, cf 3 0 1 0 Nelson, lf 4 1 1 1
Jeans, p 3 0 0 0 Lessenberry, c 0 0 0 0
Hensley, cr 0 0 0 0 Graddy, c 0 0 0 0
Sanderson, p 0 0 0 0 Green, cr 0 2 0 0
Sealy, ss 3 0 1 0 Wilson, cr 0 0 0 0
Murphy, 3b 3 0 2 0 Taylor, 3b 4 1 2 2
Tosh, rf 3 0 1 0 Pultro, rf 3 2 2 1
Rhinehart, 1b 2 0 0 0 Cross, dh 3 2 0 0
Silvey, dh 2 0 0 0 Jackson, 1b 3 0 2 1
Rico, c 2 0 0 0 Caldwell, pr 0 1 0 0
Harris, lf 2 1 1 0 Daniel, cf 2 1 1 3
Jester, 2b 0 0 0 0 Ezell, ss 3 1 1 1
Hurt, 2b 2 0 0 0
Akers, ph 1 0 0 0
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 23 1 6 0 Totals 25 11 9 9
E—Ezell, Murphy, Jean, Brown, Sealy. DP—Bryant 1. LOB—Texarkana 6, Bryant 6. 2B—Pultro. SF—Pultro, Daniel. SB—Nelson, Sealy, Green, Hensley, Ezell 2.
Texarkana 001 000 — 1
BRYANT 203 051 — 11
One out when game-ending run scored.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Jeans (L) 5 10 6 8 5 4
Sanderson 0.1 1 0 1 0 0
Rutherford (W) 6 1 0 6 2 4
Balk—Jeans. HBP—Jackson (by Jeans). WP—Jeans 7, Sanderson 2, Rutherford.