A Bryant American Legion team pulled together with members of the Junior and AA Black Sox squads battled a pair of teams with players mostly from the Harmony Grove High School program Wednesday night.
It made for a long evening of baseball.
After the Sox buried the Rasburry Surveyor Cardinals Junior (17-and-under) team, 18-0 in five innings, they turned around a took on a fresh Benton Everett Infiniti Cardinals AA (19-and-under) Legion team. The Sox fell behind early in the second game but battled to the end before absorbing an 11-8 loss.
Right-hander Jeffrey Hastings fired a four-hit shutout in the first contest, walking no one and striking out three.
The Sox took advantage of seven walks, three hit batsmen and four errors with 10 hits including three from Kyle Kling and two each by Grayson Prince and Drew Brown. Prince drove in six runs and may have knocked in another but, with the game out of hand, a runner that probably would’ve scored was held up at third on a Prince double that would’ve been a triple.
Jacob Coppock knocked in three runs as did Kling. Hastings was on base all four times he came to the plate and he wound up scoring in each instance. Prince, River Holland and Zion Collins each scored three times.
On the mound, Hastings allowed a two-out single to Burke Henley in the second inning. In the fourth, Pressley Ross singled with one down. In the top of the fifth, a two-out single by Gabe King was followed by an infield hit by Braden Blanton. An errant throw sailed down the right-field line and King tried to score all the way from first. Brown, chased down the overthrow and fired to Coppock at the plate for the tag in time, ending the game.
Bryant scored in each of its four turns at bat. In the first, Collins and Hastings drew walks. They advanced on Coppock’s groundout to first. Collins scored on a balk by Cards’ starter Braden Henley. Prince followed with an RBI double. He scored on Kling’s first hit, a single to center.
In the second, a walk to Jarod Yarborough started a seven-run burst. Braxton St. Clair singled up the middle and, after a wild pitch, Yarborough scored when Holland’s grounder to second was misplayed. That enabled St. Clair to come around as well.
After Holland stole second, Collins worked another walk and a pitching change was made. Blanton’s third pitch struck Hastings, loading the bags for Coppock. On the very next pitch, Coppock was plunked, forcing in a run.
That set up Prince’s two-run single to make it 8-0. Kling singled to right to drive in Hayden Brimhall, running for Coppock, then Prince scored on an errant pickoff throw.
That made it 10-0. In the third, Holland was hit with a pitch and, with one down, Hastings singled and Coppock walked to load the bases for Prince, who greeted the Cards’ third hurler, Burke Henley, with a two-run double to the gap in left-center. Kline’s sacrifice fly got Coppock home then Brown singled to right to chase in Prince with the 14th run of the game.
Coppock doubled in two in the fourth. Prince capped on his personal RBI barrage with a sacrifice fly and Brown singled in the final run.
The second game was full of gifts. The two teams combined to issue 16 walks, hit four batters and commit seven errors.
Chase Chilton led Benton with three hits and two runs batted in. James McCormick drove in a pair with two hits. But it was McCormick’s pitching that finally settled things down. On in relief of starter Sean Small, he got out of a jam in the third after the Sox had rallied within 8-5. The lefty then retired the side in orde3r in the fourth. In the fifth, Bryant broke through with three runs to cut into what was an 11-5 lead by then. But McCormick shut the Sox down after that, retiring the final six batters he faced.
Chilton singled in a run in the first and a second scored on a bases-loaded walk. A pair of errors contributed to the Sox’ problems in the inning but it came to an end nicely when, with the bases loaded, Collins picked off the runner at third. Though Matt Boyette was able to get back to third, Collins alertly made a throw to second to retire Matthew Rouse, who had wandered off the bag, ending the inning.
Collins fanned two as he retired the side in order in the second, assisted by Holland’s fine running catch of a pop behind second base.
Bryant took a lead in the bottom of the second without a hit. Prince reached on an error and stole second. An out later, walks were issued to Brown, St. Clair and Yarborough, forcing in a run. Holland picked up an RBI with a grounder to short but when the ball got through Conner Burrows, St. Clair hustled home with the go-ahead tally.
But more giving led to a six-run third for Benton. Small led off with a single then Hayden Hilson was hit by a pitch. Chilton singled in a run then a wild pitch allowed a run to score as the Cards regained the upper hand 4-3.
When Boyette walked, Prince tried his hand on the mound. He too struggled with his control. A walk to Rouse loaded the bases then Jojo Sparks picked up an RBI by grounding into a force at second. But McCormick walked and Hayden Gibson drove in a run with an infield hit. When Burrows was hit by a pitch to force in a run, Noah Easterling became the Sox’ third pitcher.
Small hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-3 then Easterling got Hilson to pop to Holland to end the onslaught.
Gamely, the Black Sox took advantage of Small’s struggles in the bottom of the third. Hastings walked, Coppock was struck by a pitch then Prince and Kling walked to force in a run.
McCormick relieved and issued a walk to St. Clair forcing in a second run. But the inning ended there as Everett turned its third doubleplay of the game.
Easterling issued walks to Chilton and Boyette to start the fourth but, after a visit from pitching coach Nate Rutherford, retired the next two, though Rouse was able to sacrifice runners to second and third. A strike away from escaping with no damage, Easterling’s tough pitch was slapped by McCormick for a two-run single to left, making it 10-5.
In the top of the fifth, Hilson walked with one out and scored when Chilton’s single was misplayed in the outfield. But Easterling struck out Boyette and got Rouse to foul out to keep it at that.
Bryant’s fifth started with Coppock burning Boyette in center. The shot went for a double. After Prince walked, Kling lashed a single to left. A late throw to the plate was wild so Prince wound up at third and Kling at second. Brown’s grounder to short got Prince home then St. Clair’s bouncer to first plated Kling to make it 11-8.
Brimhall was hit by a pitch to keep the inning going but McCormick’s tough pickoff move, nailed the runner to end the inning. He was Bryant’s last base-runner.
In turn, Brown turned in two good innings of relief to keep the Sox within striking distance.
The Bryant AA team is set to return to action on Monday, June 5, with a doubleheader at Hot Springs Village.