Butler shackles Jonesboro in route-going effort at Senior Legion State
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
JONESBORO — Brady Butler, who has developed somewhat surprisingly into the ace of the Bryant Black Sox staff, refused to come out of Friday’s Senior American Legion State Tournament game against the Jonesboro Ricemen.
And Butler bulldogged his way to nine-inning complete-game in Bryant’s 6-2 win over the Zone 2 champions to open the 2011 Tournament.
They’ll take on Fort Smith Kerwins in the second round on Saturday night at 8:05 p.m., at Nettleton High School, hoping to avenge a 7-4 loss to the Fort Smith team earlier this season.
With Butler’s pitch count piling up, Sox coach Wayne Taylor went to get him twice.
“He really battled,” Taylor asserted. “I had every intention of not letting him even go the eighth. But he was strong. He leveled with me. He was honest and he talked himself into the ninth. I went out with every intention of pulling him in the ninth and everybody’s begging for him. So I said, ‘Okay, don’t make me look foolish.’ He did well.”
The right-hander allowed just six hits and took a shutout into the sixth when a double by J.T. Nortier and a triple by Freddy Prince got Jonesboro on the board, though the Ricemen still trailed 5-1.
And Butler forced them to strand Prince who was at third with only one out.
It was 6-1 going into the ninth when Prince homered to set the final score. A diving catch in left-center by Josh Pultro provided the second out of the inning but then a pair of errors gave Jonesboro hope of a rally only to have Butler end the game with his 10th strikeout.
“Any time you can get a W and stay in the winners bracket and save pitching,” Taylor noted. “That’s another thing Brady did, not only getting the win here but saving for tomorrow.”
Bryant had eight hits in the game, highlighted by Hunter Mayall’s two-run blast off the scoreboard in right-center. Pultro had three of those hits.
“You know, we got timely hits,” Taylor mentioned, “but, if you want to know the truth, it could’ve been a lot shorter game because we left so many runners.”
Indeed, the Sox were issued eight walks and Pultro and Landon Pickett were each hit twice by pitches. Bryant stranded 15.
The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first, loading the bases on a single by Tyler Nelson, a walk to Tyler Brown and an error that allowed Mayall to reach. Pickett was then hit by a pitch to force in the run.
In the bottom of the first, Cogan Ford singled. Colton Kibler bounced into a force but the relay to first was wild allowing Kibler to take second. But, with Kibler trying to steal third, Butler struck out Nortier and catcher Hayden Lessenberry threw out Kibler. It was the first of two would-be base-stealers that Lessenberry gunned down.
Butler worked around a two-out walk in the second and, in the top of the third, Jordan Taylor drew a one-out walk before Mayall unloaded on a 2-0 delivery from starter Andrew Roach.
Anthony Rusher doubled and Kibler reached on an error to give Jonesboro a first-and-third situation in the bottom of the third, but for the third inning in a row Butler escaped with a strikeout.
Roach would not get through the top of the fourth. He walked Butler then Pultro singled to left. Lessenberry moved them up with a sacrifice bunt and Nelson picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly. A walk to Brown set the table for Taylor who lined a single to left-center to plate Pultro and end Roach’s evening.
Butler walked one in the bottom of the fourth but the Sox turned a doubleplay. Blain Cabon doubled to lead off the fifth but never got any further than second.
After Jonesboro broke the goose egg in the sixth, however, Butler retired seven of the next eight with the lone baserunner coming on a walk that Lessenberry erased.
After stranding three in the seventh, Bryant got to reliever Wes Watts for a run in the eighth. With two down, Taylor walked, Mayall singled and Pickett was hit by a pitch again. A wild pitch allowed Taylor to score, making it 6-1.