By Rob Patrick
Both the Bryant Black Sox and the Texarkana Hogs had a chance to clinch a coveted first-round bye for[more] the Zone 4 Tournament Wednesday night but neither of them did.
Bryant was denied in the first game of the league doubleheader between the two teams but Texarkana was prevented from nailing one down in the second.
The rematch between last summer’s State championship finalists wound up in a split. Texarkana, behind the five-hit shutout pitching of lefty Tim Buchanan of Pleasant Grove, Texas (bound for Southern Arkansas University), won the first 8-0. Bryant, with a 10-run second inning, won the nightcap, 14-7.
The Sox’ loss was their second in Zone play. They fell in the first of a twinbill at Sheridan on June 27.
The Hogs’ loss was their first in Zone play but they have yet to play Sheridan, which suffered its lone league loss to Bryant in the second game of their double dip.
So, the two teams out of those three still in the running for one of the two byes, will be determined this Monday when Texarkana hosts Sheridan. Bryant’s fate will hang in the balance as much as its two rivals’. But, because the Sox may not have the pitching depth that the other two teams have, the bye figures to be more crucial for them, particularly since the post-season tournament games are nine innings.
That’s why Wednesday’s games were so vital. They came in controlling their own destiny in that regard. That is no longer the case.
Plus, if it comes down to a tiebreaker between the Sox and the Hogs, Texarkana, by whittling on Bryant’s 13-0 lead in the second game, wound up with the edge because the Hogs beat the Sox by eight runs but lost to them by seven.
By the way, the last two teams standing after the Zone tourney will advance to the Senior American Legion State Tournament in North Little Rock.
In the opener, Buchanan and Bryant’s Tyler Nelson dueled early. The game was scoreless through three innings. Bryant had the best chances to break through during that stretch. The first inning started with Hunter Mayall blasting a double to deep center. Tyler Brown bunted for a hit to put runners at first and third with no one out. But neither scored as Buchanan struck out the next two batters and ended the inning with a check-swing roller to short.
In the third, Mayall singled with one out, and, with two away, Jordan Taylor smacked a base hit. A wild pitch got them to second and third but they got no further.
Meanwhile, Nelson was getting the Hogs to pound the ball into the ground. Seven of the nine outs in those first three innings came on grounders. A doubleplay erased a one-out single by Justin Buchanan in the second. In the third, after one-out singles by Luke McGuire and Josey Langston, Nelson picked off the runner at first to help get out of the jam.
In the fourth, however, it appeared the Bryant right-hander was uncomfortable as he hit Trevor Rucker with a pitch then issued walks to Hunter Wilcher and Alan Copeland. He battled to strike out Justin Buchanan and he got a strike in to Brennan Watkins. On the next delivery, however, Watkins smacked a grand slam.
Though Nelson recorded the second out of the inning, after McGuire looped a single to center, Bryant manager Darren Hurt took him out in favor of Tryce Schalchlin. Nelson was indeed uncomfortable on the mound. He left with a pain in his side.
With the lead, Tim Buchanan only got tougher. Counting the final out of the third inning, the lefty retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced in the game. The lone base-runner was Ozzie Hurt, who singled up the middle with one out in the fifth.
Schalchlin did his job and not only got out of the fourth but shut out the Hogs in the fifth and sixth.
Hoping to save Schalchlin (whom he wound up turning to again in the nightcap), Hurt brought in Josh Pultro then Hayden Daniel then Tyler Brown to try to get through the top of the seventh. But Texarkana tacked on four runs to break the game open.
The Texarkana pitcher scattered five hits, didn’t walk anyone and fanned four. It was the first time this season Bryant had been shutout. In fact, is was the first time this season the Sox scored fewer than three. It was the first time the Sox have been shutout since July 10, 2010 against Texarkana.
In the second game, Bryant struck for three runs in the top of the first inning. (Texarkana was made the home team since the doubleheader was played in lieu of a Bryant trip to southwest Arkansas.)
Mayall drew a lead-off walk and Brown lined a single to left. Taylor beat out an infield hit to load the bases and, with one out, Pultro came through with a two-run single.
Daniel singled to load up the bases again and Marcus Wilson picked up an RBI with a groundout.
Rutherford surrendered a single and a walk and hit a batter in the bottom of the inning but the Sox turned doubleplay to keep the Hogs off the board.
The right-hander worked around a walk in the second after Bryant’s blitz. Hurt led off the second with a double. Mayall singled and Brown was hit by a pitch to load the bags. A wild pitch allowed Hurt to score as Taylor walked to fill the sacks again.
Landon Pickett singled in a run then Pultro drove in a run when he was hit by a delivery from Texarkana starter Alan Copeland. And when Daniel ripped a two-run double to left, Copeland was done as the lead ballooned to 10-0.
Jonathan Boucher came in to pitch for the Hogs but walked Wilson to load the bases again then surrendered a free pass to Hayden Lessenberry to force in another run.
Hurt came through with his second hit of the inning, a single to left that chased home two more. The scoring continued after Mayall walked. Brown singled in a run and Taylor brought one home with a sacrifice fly to make it 13-0.
Texarkana broke up the shutout with a three-run home third. Daniel Thompson beat out an infield hit, Rucker walked and Wilcher mashed a triple to deep left-center. He would score when Justin Buchanan grounded out to Pickett at first.
The game went to the fifth with Bryant leading by 10, enough for a run-rule win if the Sox could hold the Hogs without scoring. But Texarkana rallied for three runs to stay extend the game.
Thompson was hit by the first pitch of the frame. Rucker doubled and a passed ball allowed Thompson to score. A walk to Dalton McCarty was followed by an RBI single for Watkins.
After Kyle Duncan was struck by a delivery to load the bases and Schalchlin was called on to relieve Rutherford. A third run scored when Jackson Murphy’s dribbler up the right side was fielded by Schalchlin whose only play was at the plate. But his off-balance toss sailed and the Hogs had stayed alive, 13-6.
Neither team scored in the sixth and, to open the seventh, Pickett mashed his eighth home run of the season, making it 14-6, matching the eight-run difference in the first game.
Texarkana’s run in the bottom of the seventh provided the Hogs the upper hand on the tiebreaker.
With the results, Texarkana is 24-7 on the season; Bryant is 21-4 with a final Zone game still to be played against Benton McClendon’s sometime next week. The Sox host Sylvan Hills on Tuesday. District play in Texarkana commences on Friday, July 20.
TEXARKANA HOGS 8, BRYANT BLACK SOX 0
Senior American Legion
Hogs ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Thompson, rf 4 1 2 0 Mayall, lf-1b 3 0 2 0
Rucker, 2b 3 2 0 0 Brown, 3b-p 3 0 1 0
Wilcher, lf 2 1 0 0 Taylor, ss 3 0 1 0
Copeland, 1b 3 1 1 1 Pickett, 1b-3b 3 0 0 0
J.Buchanan, c 4 0 1 1 Nelson, p 1 0 0 0
Watkins, 3b 2 1 1 4 Schalchlin, p 1 0 0 0
Russell, dh 4 0 0 0 Wilson, cf-lf 1 0 0 0
McGuire, cf 4 1 3 0 Pultro, rf-p 3 0 0 0
Langston, ss 3 1 2 1 Lessenberry, c 3 0 0 0
T.Buchanan, p 0 0 0 0 Daniel, cf-rf-p 3 0 0 0
Hurt, 2b 2 0 1 0
Totals 29 8 10 7 Totals 26 0 5 0
Texarkana 000 400 4 — 8
BRYANT 000 000 0 — 0
E—Brown. DP—Bryant 1. LOB—Texarkana 6, Bryant 5. 2B—Mayall. HR—Watkins. SB—Rucker, Wilcher, Thompson.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
T.Buchanan (W) 7 0 0 5 0 4
Nelson (L) 3.2 4 4 5 2 1
Schalchlin 2.1 0 0 1 1 1
Pultro 0 3 2 3 0 0
Daniel 0 1 0 1 1 0
Brown 1 0 0 0 1 1
Pultro faced three batters in the seventh.
Daniel faced three batters in the seventh.
HBP—Rucker (by Nelson). WP—T.Buchanan, Pultro.
BRYANT BLACK SOX 14, TEXARKANA HOGS 7
Senior American Legion
Black Sox ab r h bi Hogs ab r h bi
Mayall, dh 2 2 1 0 Thompson, c 4 2 3 0
Brown, 3b 4 2 2 1 Rucker, 2b 2 2 1 0
Taylor, ss 3 2 2 1 Wilcher, rf 4 1 1 2
Pickett, 1b 5 2 2 2 J.Buchanan, 3b 1 0 0 1
Pultro, rf 3 1 1 3 McCarty, 1b 1 1 0 0
Daniel, cf 5 1 2 2 Watkins, lf 3 1 1 1
Wilson, lf 3 1 1 1 Duncan, dh 2 0 0 0
Lessenberry, c 2 1 1 1 T.Buchanan, 1b 2 0 0 0
Graddy, c 2 0 0 0 Murphy, 1b-3b 2 0 1 0
Hurt, 2b 4 2 2 2 McGuire, cf 4 0 1 1
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0 Langston, ss 4 0 0 0
Copeland, p 0 0 0 0
Boucher, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 33 14 14 13 Totals 29 7 8 5
BRYANT 3(10)0 000 1 — 14
Texarkana 003 030 1 — 7
E—Pickett, Langston, Schalchlin, Murphy. DP—Bryant 2, Texarkana 1. LOB—Bryant 10, Texarkana 9. 2B—Daniel, Rucker, Hurt. 3B—Wilcher. HR—Pickett. SB—Thompson 2. SF—Taylor.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Rutherford (W) 4.1 6 4 5 3 1
Schalchlin (S) 3.2 1 1 3 1 2
Copeland (L) 1 10 8 8 2 0
Boucher 6 4 4 6 5 2
HBP—Rucker, Thompson, Duncan (by Rutherford), Pultro, Brown (by Copeland), Putro (by Boucher). WP—Copeland. PB—Graddy.