By Rob Patrick
Photos by Rick Nation
The bottom third of the Bryant Hornets’ batting order did a number on the Arkadelphia Badgers Monday[more] night at Bryant High School Field. Seven-hole hitter Trevor Ezell eight-hole hitter Hayden Daniel, and nine-hole hitter Ozzie Hurt combined for five hits and seven runs batted in and a trio of pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout and a 9-0 victory.
Quinton Motto, fresh from a splendid season helping the BHS basketball team reach the Class 7A State semifinals, worked three shutout innings in his first start, allowing just two hits and two walks while fanning six. Tryce Schalchlin picked up the win with three innings of two-hit relief with sophomore Chase Tucker making his first varsity appearance on the mound, closing it out with a scoreless seventh.
The win improved the Hornets to 7-0 on the season going into their 7A/6A-Central Conference opener today against North Little Rock.
The Hornets’ bats took some of the pressure off the pitchers by quickly grabbing a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the opening innings.
“That was our goal, to jump on them,” said Hornets assistant coach Elliott Jacobs. “We’ve started off slow the last couple of games and let people hang around. So that was our goal, to be aggressive offensively. If the guy threw a fastball we could hit, I wanted them swinging and, in the first inning, we did that.
“Later on, their outfielders made some great plays,” he added. “We try not to lift balls and we lifted a few we shouldn’t have but then they made some plays when they had to.”
Bryant broke through with a four-run fifth, however.
“I told the guys about the fifth inning that this was a time where, if we let them in, it’d be a fight to the end,” Jacobs mentioned. “But they did a good job that inning of putting up a couple more to give us that comfortable lead.
“I thought our pitchers pitched tremendously,” he added. “And we’ve been struggling with errors but we had none today and that’s what we wanted to see.”
Motto opened the game with a strikeout but then he hit Garrett Rucker, issued a walk to Will Wallace and then balked them over to second and third. But he forced the Badgers to strand them when he struck out clean-up hitter Conner Bryan and five-hole hitter Austin White.
Bryan started on the mound for Arkadelphia and was greeted by Tyler Green who swatted an 0-2 delivery down the right-field line. Hayden Lessenberry sacrificed him to second and Jordan Taylor singled sharply through the right side. Green held at third on the play but then Bryan ran into some control problems. He hit Josh Pultro to load the bases and, on the very next pitch, hit Dylan Cross to force in the first run.
The Badgers' right-hander regained control and fanned Tyler Nelson to set up the bottom third. Ezell pulled an RBI single into left, Daniel dumped a hit in behind third base for a two-run single and, after those two worked a double steal, Hurt walked to bring up Green with the sacks jammed. His second hit of the inning made it 5-0.
Motto gave up a lead-off single by Branson Beard in the top of the second but he then retired the next three batters to strand a man at second.
Bryan, meanwhile, settled in and retired 11 in a row with all three of his outfielders — Jakahari Howell in center, Kris Oliver in left and Jahlon Mitchell in right — robbing Hornets’ batters of hits.
Howell led off the Badgers’ third with a double into right-center. He took third on a Rucker’s grounder to second then Wallace walked again. Motto got back on track by fanning Bryan once more then getting White to pop to Hurt, who ranged over to the right-field line from second base to haul the ball in and keep it 5-0.
Schalchlin came on in the fourth and worked around a pair of one-out walks, ending the inning by started a doubleplay. Mitchell, trying to bunt the runners over, lined it back to Schalchlin, who made the catch and fired to first to nab John Franklin Matros.
He worked around a two-out walk in the top of the fifth and, in the bottom half, the Hornets’ bats came back to life. It only started, however, after Mitchell robbed Taylor of a hit with a diving catch in the right-center gap. Though Taylor was denied extra bases, Pultro got one down in deep left for a double. Cross was hit by a pitch again and, after Nelson was robbed by Howell, Ezell’s drive into left-center, though nearly run down by Oliver, fell in just out of his reach for a two-run double. Daniel yanked a single to left then stole second to set the table for Hurt who chopped one over Matros at third for a two-run single to make it 9-0.
Arkadelphia threatened to get on the board in the top of the sixth when Beard singled and, with two out, Matros doubled inside the third-base bag. But Schalchlin preserved the shutout by getting Mitchell to foul out to Cross at first.
Singles by Pultro and Cross and yet another hit batsman, this time Nelson, loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the sixth but Bryan made a nice stab of a comebacker off Ezell’s bat to prevent the Hornetes from ending it there with a run-rule.
That gave Tucker a chance to take the mound for the Hornets. He eased past the first two batters but then walked Wallace — the fourth time the Badgers’ first baseman drew a free ticket — hit Bryan and walked White.
After a visit from assistant coach Mark Cain, however, Tucker got Beard to pop to Nelson at short to close it out.
Now the Hornets look ahead to North Little Rock.
“I told them before the game, the season starts today,” Jacobs related. “We’ve won our other games but we weren’t winning the way we should. I challenged them and they came through for us. We intend to do that from here on out.
“Our focus is tomorrow,” he added. “We wanted to use this game to prepare for that. We want to win every game but we also want to make sure we’re getting better every game.”
BRYANT 9, ARKADELPHIA 0
Badgers ab r h bi Hornets ab r h bi
Howell, cf 4 0 1 0 Green, lf 4 1 2 1
Rucker, ss 3 0 0 0 Lessenberry, c 3 0 0 0
Wallace, 1b 0 0 0 0 Taylor, 3b 4 1 1 0
Bryan, p 3 0 0 0 Pultro, cf 3 2 2 0
White, c 3 0 0 0 Cross, 1b 2 2 1 1
Beard, 2b 4 0 2 0 Nelson, ss 3 0 0 0
Knight, dh 2 0 0 0 Ezell, dh 3 2 2 3
Matros, 3b 2 0 1 0 Daniel, rf 3 1 2 2
Mitchell, rf 3 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b 2 0 1 2
Oliver, lf 0 0 0 0 Motto, p 0 0 0 0
Schalchlin, p 0 0 0 0
Tucker, p 0 0 0 0
Total 24 0 4 0 Total 28 9 11 9
E—none. DP—Bryant 1. LOB—Arkadelphia 12, Bryant 7. 2B—Howell, Pultro, Ezell, Matros. S—Lessenberry. SB—Daniel 2, Ezell.
Arkadelphia 000 000 0 — 0
BRYANT 500 040 X — 9
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Bryan (L) 6 9 9 11 1 1
Motto 3 0 0 2 2 6
Schalchlin (W) 3 0 0 2 3 0
Tucker 1 0 0 0 2 0
Balk-Motto. HBP—Rucker (by Motto), Pultro, Cross 2, Nelson (by Bryan), Bryan (by Tucker). WP—Schalchlin.