By Rob Patrick
After catching a doubleheader in Texarkana on Wednesday, Brady Butler went the[more] distance on the mound against Little Rock Continental Express on Thursday. He was engaged in a duel with Express lefty John Mark Osborn through five innings.
The difference in the game turned out to be efficiency. Through five innings, Butler had thrown just 53 pitches, Osborn 92.
The Sox managed to break the tie in the bottom of the fifth then greeted Continental reliever Thomas Fiedorek with four in the sixth to gain control of the game.
The 6-1 win improved the Sox to 6-1 overall this season and ran their Zone 4 mark to 4-0. They take a break from league play on Monday when they host Sheridan. On Tuesday, they return to Zone 4 action at Pine Bluff Simmons.
“We did come out flat and were flat for about four innings,” noted Sox coach Wayne Taylor. “But I think that was to be expected due to the doubleheader and late night with Texarkana. I don’t think anyone got in bed before 2 a.m. So, to come out when we were in a prime position to get upset and gut it out for a win says a lot about the character of the team.
“You have to give the lefty (Osborn) credit because he kept us off balance,” he added. “But Brady Butler did a very nice job for us. We didn’t want to extend him this early in the season but his pitch count was low and they hadn’t hit him hard, so we let him go the distance and he pitched well. (Catcher) B.J. (Ellis) did a nice job behind the plate and our offense came through with enough when we needed it.”
Butler wound up throwing 92 pitches in the complete-game performance. He walked just one, hit a pair of batters, struck out four and gave up four singles. The lone Express run was unearned. Butler has yet to give up an earned run in two outings this season.
The Sox opened up a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the initial inning. Tyler Brown singled to left, moved up to second on Jordan Taylor’s groundout and scored on a double into the left-center gap by Landon Pickett.
Bryant’s only error of the game began the second inning as Osborn reached base. Butler hit Jacob Green with a pitch but came back to strike out Fiedorek. Logan Hays, however, hit a sinking liner to center that fell just in front of Josh Pultro for an RBI single to tie the game.
With a well-executed relay from Pultro to Pickett to Brown, the Black Sox retired Green on the hit and, after Ethan Shepard was plunked, Conley Culpepper lofted a fly into shallow center that Lucas Castleberry went a long way to haul in, keeping the score even.
That started a stretch in which Bulter, with the help of his defense, set down 12 in a row. Joiner and Taylor both turned in impressive plays during that stretch.
Osborn allowed a walk to Pultro and a single by Evan Jobe in the second but escaped. Brown’s lead-off single in the third came to naught. In the fourth, Pultro was hit by a pitch but wound up being stranded at third.
But, in the bottom of the fifth, Hunter Mayall shot a single up the middle and Brown sacrificed him to second for Taylor who brought him home with a sharp single to right.
Taylor got to second on a wild pitch but was stranded when Osborn retired the next two on outfield flies.
Butler’s string was snapped by Ivan Tate who singled with two down in the top of the sixth. Osborn beat out an infield hit then a wild pitch got both runners in scoring position. On a 1-2 delivery, Green narrowly missed extra bases with a shot just outside the foul line in left. Butler, however, got him to fly to Joiner in left to end the threat.
Castleberry started the breakout home sixth with an infield hit. Pultro followed with a smash to the fence in right-center for an RBI triple. He would score on B.J. Ellis’ bouncer to the right side, making it 4-1.
With two down, Fiedorek got within a strike of ending there. But Mayall took a 3-2 pitch for a walk. Brown was hit by a pitch and Taylor put the finishing touches on the offensive output, stroking a double to right-center to plate two.
Butler issued a lead-off walk to Fiedorek in the seventh but retired Hays and Shepard on flyballs. A bad-hop single by Mark Calaway kept alive Continental’s hopes of narrowing the game but Ben Gipson grounded to Taylor at short. He flipped to Ozzie Hurt at second to end the game.
“It was nice to find a way to win because a loss there would have taken away from the sweep at Texarkana,” Coach Taylor concluded.
BRYANT 6, LITTLE ROCK CONTINENTAL 1
Senior American Legion
Express ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Gipson, ss 4 0 0 0 Mayall, dh 3 2 1 0
Mayfield, 3b 3 0 0 0 Brown, 3b 2 2 2 0
Tate, cf 3 0 1 0 Taylor, ss 4 0 2 3
Osborn, p-rf 3 1 1 0 Pickett, 1b 4 0 1 1
Green, c 2 0 0 0 Joiner, lf 3 0 0 0
Fiedorek, 1b-p 2 0 0 0 Castleberry, 2b 3 1 1 0
Hays, lf 3 0 1 1 Hurt, 2b 0 0 0 0
Shepard, rf-2b 2 0 0 0 Pultro, cf 1 1 1 1
Culpepper, 2b 2 0 0 0 Ellis, c 3 0 0 1
Callaway, 1b 1 0 1 0 Jobe, rf 3 0 1 0
Butler, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 25 1 4 1 Totals 26 6 9 6
LR Express 010 000 0 — 1
BRYANT 100 014 x — 6
E—Taylor, Gipson. LOB—Little Rock Continental 6, Bryant 7. 2B—Pickett, Taylor. 3B—Pultro. S—Brown.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Little Rock Express
Osborn (L) 5 2 2 6 1 5
Fiedorek 1 4 4 3 1 0
Butler (W) 7 1 0 4 1 4
HBP—Green, Shepard (by Butler), Pultro (by Osborn), Brown (by Fiedorek). WP—Osborn 2, Butler 1.