Black Sox rattle the bats, roll to 18-1 win
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
LITTLE ROCK — At one point during the Bryant Black Sox’ 18-hit barrage on Thursday night at Gary Hogan Field, Little Rock Blue right-hander Will Andress looked into the dugout. His manager Mike Johnson hollered to him that he’d just have to keep pitching. “You’re all I’ve got,” he said.
Blue, battling for as high a seed as it can get for the Zone 4 District Tournament in Bryant starting Friday, Feb. 17, was playing its third league game of the week. And when its starter, hard-throwing right-hander Michael Marsh, couldn’t get out of the first inning, Andress got to take one for the team.
Bryant walked away with an 18-1 victory in five innings after scoring half those runs in the first inning. Eleven Black Sox players got into the game and 10 of them had hits. The 11th, starting second baseman Austin Benning, walked both times he came to the plate and wound up scoring twice.[more]
Hunter Mayall had four hits, Caleb Garrett and Tyler Sawyer three each and Austin Queck two.
The game also marked the return to action of infielder Hunter Alford who broke his wrist early in the high school baseball season in the spring and was just cleared the play. And he was able to join the hit parade with a ringing double to the gap in right center in the top of the fifth inning.
That was moments before Justin Blankenship capped off the onslaught with his first grand slam ever, a shot over the wall in right.
Sawyer pitched three shutout innings, allowing an unearned run in the fourth. He gave up four hits without a walk and struck out seven. Blankenship worked a 1-2-3 home fifth to close it out.
The big first inning began with a walk to Blankenship. Singles by Garrett and Sawyer brought him around with the first run then Mayall drove a single up the middle to get Garrett home, making it 2-0.
Marsh retired the next two batters to bring up Queck who turned out to have what manager Craig Harrison called, “the key at-bat of the game.”
Queck mashed an 0-1 pitch into the gap in left-center for a two-run double that made it 4-0 and opened the floodgates.
“If he doesn’t get that hit, we’re ahead just 2-0 and we’re over here talking to these guys about leaving all those baserunners on,” Harrison explained.
Instead, Benning worked for a walk after spoiling a tough 3-2 pitch and, on the next delivery from Marsh, B.J. Ellis hammered a double off the base of the wall in left-center to make it 6-0.
Blankenship drew a walk then Marsh came within a strike of getting out of the inning on the next three batters only to have them each belt two-strike hits. It was 2-2 on Garrett when he sliced a liner inside the right-field line for a two-run triple. It was 3-2 when Sawyer banged a double off the wall in left-center to make it 9-0. Then it was 0-2 when Mayall pulled his second hit into right to put runners at first and third.
Andress relieved at that point and got the final out of the inning.
Sawyer pitched around a one-out double to Darren Watson in the bottom of the first and the Sox went back to work at the plate in the second. Brady Butler singled, advanced on a groundout by Queck and took third on a passed ball as Benning walked again. A walk to Ellis loaded the bases for Blankenship who bounced one to second baseman Macon Speed. Ellis was tagged out going to second but collided with Speed who threw wildly to first allowing Benning to follow Butler home, making it 11-0.
In the bottom of the second, Speed singled with one out and, with two down, tried to score from first when Joe Ramm drilled a double to right. But Blankenship retrieved the ball in right and fired to Benning, the cutoff man. Benning rifled a throw to Ellis at the plate who had the ball waiting for Speed for the third out.
In Bryant’s third, Mayall doubled to left-center but could only advance to third when Kaleb Jobe lifted a long fly to right. The ball wound up getting over the right-fielder’s head for a double. Butler drew a walk to load the bases for Queck who came through again with an RBI single to left.
Alford’s first at bat since March resulted in a grounder to second that went for a force at second (with an in-the-neighborhood call reflecting the score). But he picked up an RBI as Jobe scored. Ellis followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 14-0.
Blue got its lone run in the fourth when Marsh singled up the middle and advanced to second on what turned out to be a balk. As Sawyer was going into his delivery, the ball slipped from his grip and he basically threw a pop up toward home plate. It never made it there as Marsh headed to second, Ellis hustled out to snatch up the bouncing ball and throw but, since the ball didn’t go far enough, it was ruled a balk. A passed ball allowed March to take third and he scored on a groundout by Speed.
Sawyer ended his night of moundwork with a strikeout.
In the top of the fifth, Jonathan Wade cracked a one-hop shot past Blue shortstop Taylor Brown for a single, Alford doubled and Ellis was hit by a pitch for the 12th time this season. That set the table for Blankenship’s blast on a 2-2 pitch from Andress.
Bryant improved to 23-4 this season and 9-0 in Zone 4. They’ll try to finish the league campaign unbeaten with a win over Benton McClendon’s at home on Friday night. It’s their eighth straight regular-season title but would be only the second time a Black Sox team has gone through the league without a loss. (The other time was 2006 when they went 12-0).
BRYANT 18, LR BLUE 1
Black Sox ab r h bi LR Blue ab r h bi
Blankenship, rf-p 3 2 1 5 Ty.Brown, cf 3 0 0 0
Garrett, cf 4 3 3 2 Watson, lf-3b 2 0 1 0
Sawyer, p-1b 5 1 3 2 Du.Ward, 1b-lf 2 0 0 0
Mayall, 3b 5 2 4 1 Ta.Brown, ss 2 0 0 0
Jobe, ss 4 1 1 0 Marsh, p-1b 2 1 1 0
Butler, 1b-rf 4 2 1 0 Da.Ward, 3b 0 0 0 0
Queck, lf 3 1 2 3 Speed, lf-2b 2 0 1 1
Wade, lf 1 1 1 0 Gray, rf 1 0 0 0
Benning, 2b 0 2 0 0 Waterson, rf 1 0 0 0
Alford, 2b 2 1 1 0 Ramm, c 2 0 1 0
Ellis, c 1 2 1 3 Andress, 2b-p 2 0 0 0
Totals 32 18 18 17 Totals 19 1 4 1
E—Speed, Alford. LOB—Bryant 9, LR Blue 3. 2B—Queck, Ellis, Watson, Ramm, Mayall, Jobe. 3B—Garrett. HR—Blankenship. SF—Ellis.
Bryant 923 04 — 18
LR Blue 000 10 — 1
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Sawyer (W) 4 1 0 4 0 7
Blankenship 1 0 0 0 0 1
Marsh (L) 0.2 9 9 8 3 0
Andress 4.1 9 8 10 5 1
Balk—Sawyer. HBP—Ellis (by Andress). WP—Sawyer, Andress 2. PB—Ellis, Ramm.