Black Sox capture Zone 4 tourney title
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).
PINE BLUFF — Though they wound up having to do it the hard way, the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team captured the championship of the Zone 4 post-season tournament to add to their regular-season title.
The Sox made it to the winners bracket finals after adding a 16-3 thumping of Texarkana to their opening win over Lake Hamilton. With one of the league’s two trips to State on the line, however, Little Rock Post 1 Blue — the only league team to beat Bryant during the regular season — rallied for a 15-12 win on Saturday, July 26.
But the Sox earned their bid to State and another shot at Blue on Sunday, July 27, with an 11-1 shelling of host Pine Bluff Simmons Bank. In the championship round on Monday, July 28, the Sox out-slugged Blue 11-8 in the first game forcing a winner-take-all finale which Bryant won 11-0 behind a two-hit shutout from youngster Ben Wells.
The results gave Bryant the league’s top seed at the Senior Legion State Tournament in North Little Rock, raising its overall record to 31-9.
Bryant 11, LR Blue 0
In a run-rule win, Wells fanned five and walked just one on his way to the seven-inning shutout. Kaleb Jobe contributed three hits and a pair of runs batted in and the Sox took advantage of Blue’s weary pitchers for 13 walks.
Blue managed to get a runner past second just once in the game. In the fourth, Taylor Brown walked, was singled to second by Tim Watson and took third when Dustin Ward bounced into a force at second.
The only other Blue hit was a two-out single by Michael March in the seventh.
Bryant established a 5-0 lead in the first. All five runners reached base on either a walk or a hit batsman with David Guarno and Jordan Knight picking up the RBIs. Jobe then singled in two and Trent Daniel picked up an RBI when he grounded into a force at second.
Knight walked, Jobe singled and, after a sacrifice by Daniel, Michael Haydon made it 6-0 with a sacrifice fly in the third.
The run-rule came into play after a five-run fifth that started with a triple by Jobe. Daniel doubled him home. Drew Ransdell walked, Garrett Bock was hit by a pitch and Tyler Pickett drove in two with a single to left. After Tyler Sawyer walked, Guarno bounced into a force at second as Bock scored. And when a late relay to first was wild, Pickett scored to make it 11-0.
Bryant 11, Blue 8
The Sox overcame a 4-3 deficit with three runs in the top of the fifth and three more in the sixth. After Blue scored three in the seventh, a pair of runs in the top of the ninth provided a cushion. Blue rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning before Sawyer, the fourth Bryant pitcher, ended it with a strikeout.
Knight was 4 for 5 with a pair of runs batted in. Pickett and Sawyer had two hits apiece and Guarno and Haydon each drove in three.
Bryant scored first, picking up three in the top of the third. Bock doubled, Pickett singled him home and, after Sawyer singled, Knight plated a run with his second hit. Sawyer scored when Daniel’s drive to right was misplayed.
Blue answered with four in the bottom of the inning highlighted by Tim Watson’s three-run homer.
The tell-tale fifth-inning uprising for Bryant began with a single by Sawyer. Guarno walked and Knight singled to tie it. With two down, Daniel drew a walk to load the bases for Haydon who came through with a two-run single to put Bryant ahead to stay.
In the sixth, Guarno followed a walk to Bock and a single by Pickett with his fourth home run of the tournament to make it 9-4.
Blue’s rally in the seventh, knocked out starter Drew Ransdell. Justin Blankenship struggled in relief but Sergio Arias came on with the tying run at the plate and struck out a pair to end the inning with a 9-7 lead.
In the ninth, Knight singled, stole second and, after Jobe walked, scored on a base hit by Daniel. Haydon capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the inning, Arias recorded his third strikeout but a hit batsman and a single moved manager Craig Harrison to bring on Sawyer to close. Though he gave up a two-out RBI single to Ward, he ended it with a strikeout moments later.
Bryant 11, Pine Bluff 1
Bryant racked up an 8-1 lead over the first three innings and made it a run-rule win with three more in the eighth to end Pine Bluff’s season. Pickett, Sawyer, Guarno and Knight each had two hits in the game while Jobe and Daniel combined to scatter 11 hits.
Pine Bluff’s lone run came in the first. Bryant countered with two in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded single by Knight and a sacrifice fly by Jobe.
A five-run second put the Sox in command. Ransdell and Blankenship singled to start the inning. Bock walked and a passed ball allowed Ransdell to score. Blankenship followed moments later on an errant pickoff throw that allowed Bock to take second. Singles by Pickett, Sawyer, Knight and Jobe completed the inning with the last three plating runs.
In the third, Blankenship hit a shot that got past the first baseman into the right-field corner. He took third on the play then scored when the ball was mishandled by the right fielder, making it 8-1.
Reece Cross, the Pine Bluff ace, relieved in the second and worked into the eighth. But since a 162-pitch effort in a loss at Bryant, the UCA right-hander has been on a pitch count. He gave way to Sean Baldwin with one out in the eighth and the Sox put together a three-run surge that ended the game.
Bock was hit by a pitch, Pickett singled and Sawyer doubled in a run. Guarno’s two-run double made it a run-rule win.
LR Blue 15, Bryant 12
In a wild game that ended with the tying runs on base for Bryant, Blue qualified for State for the first time in years, wading through five Bryant pitchers for 18 hits.
The Sox managed just four hits but took advantage of a whopping 18 walks and a hit batsman to stay in the game. Haydon had two of the hits, driving in a pair of runs.
Blue took a 2-0 lead in the first. Bryant managed a run in the second on a pair of walks, an error and an RBI groundout by Haydon.
Blue upped the margin to 6-1 in the third only to have Bryant take advantage of five of the walks and the hit batsman to rally in the bottom of the inning to take an 8-6 lead. Knight blasted a two-run homer early in the outburst. Haydon added a double and Bock, Pickett, Sawyer and Guarno picked up RBIs with free passes.
Blue, however, countered with a four-run fourth to take the lead for good. Two more scored in the fifth to make it 12-8. It stayed that way until the seventh when the Sox whittled another run off the lead on an RBI double by Bock with one out but they stranded runners at second and third.
In the top of the eighth, Blue added a run but Bryant got back within a run at 13-12, scoring three times on a pair of walks, a two-base error and an RBI groundout by Haydon in the home half.
In the ninth, Blue padded the lead with two more runs only to have Bryant threaten in the bottom of the frame. With two down, walks were issued to Guarno, Jonathan Wade and Jobe to load the bases to bring the potential winning run to the plate only to have the game end on a strikeout.
Bryant 16, Texarkana 3
Guarno ripped his third home run in two days, drove in four runs and had two hits. Pickett added two hits and a trio of RBIs, and Daniel had two hits to help the patient Sox take advantage of 12 walks.
Sawyer went the distance on the mound, scattering six hits over seven innings. He walked one and struck out six.
Texarkana started the game with three hits and a sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 lead but didn’t manage another hit until the fourth when the single was combined with an error, a passed ball and bunt hit to plate its third run. Sawyer gave up a two-out hit in the fifth then retired the last seven in a row.
Bryant tied it in the bottom of the first on Guarno’s shot to center on the heels of a double by Sawyer.
In the second, the Sox gained the upper hand with six runs. Pickett singled in a pair and Guarno doubled home two.
An eight-run sixth put the run-rule into effect. An error, a hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases then Jobe, Daniel, Ransdell and Pickett each singled in runs. Walks to Sawyer, Guarno and Knight forced in a run and Sawyer made it 16 on a wild pitch.