Charging Wildcats extend Hornets’ struggles

By Rob Patrick

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — So, what happened to the Bryant Hornets baseball team after they returned from their spring break week in Florida?

Did somebody step on a baseline? Did they collectively walk under a ladder? Did somebody spill the salt or take an open umbrella indoors? Maybe a black cat crossed their path.

Of course, to truly believe a superstition like those is to say that someone or something is in control besides the Lord above. And that ain’t so.

But the Hornets certainly have been snake-bitten lately.

The latest example came on Thursday night when Bryant suffered a gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats at Vince DeSalvo Stadium in Burns Park. In the top of the seventh, the Hornets finally got a break and eked out a run to tie the game 1-1 but, in the bottom of the inning, after an error extended North Little Rock’s at bat, Andrew Hohn slapped a two-out single to left with the bases loaded to win the game.[more]

The Hornets, who were 15-1 at one time and 2-0 in the 7A-Central Conference, dropped to 16-7 and 2-5 going into the second-half of the league’s home-and-home schedule.

Fortunately, the jumbled conference race is still wide open. A three or four game win streak could lift the Hornets from last place to first. In fact, any team that gets on a hot streak could run away with the conference title the way the rest of the teams are knocking each other off.

“We’ve just got to keep going,” stated a resolute Bryant head coach Kirk Bock. “There’s no sense in whining and crying about it. You’ve got to just keep going. We’re not getting any breaks but we’re not making any breaks either.

“The kids are playing hard,” he emphasized. “When we start playing with a little more heart and desire, we’re going to get back on track. It has nothing to do with their work ethic. And I’m not saying they don’t play with heart. I mean they play hard. We’ve just got to dig down deep and get some more. When we start doing that, we're going to be all right.”

Both Bryant’s Blake Davidson and North Little Rock’s Will Harris pitched splendidly. Davidson, making his first conference start after four strong appearances in a row, wound up being the tough-luck loser. He struck out eight, walked just one and allowed six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

“Blake did a great job,” Bock asserted. "And Benny (Wells) did a good job coming in there (in the seventh)."

The Wildcats’ sixth hit against the Bryant junior was a one-out double by Hayden Byrd that just got past the diving reach of Hornets’ center fielder Garrett Bock in the bottom of the seventh. Wells relieved and got the second out by fanning Derek Houser. Then, on an 0-2 count to Ty Schaller, Wells induced a grounder to second that appeared to be an inning-ender. But the ball was booted as second baseman Chris Joiner just missed the big hop on the edge of the infield grass and had to try to short-hop it.

That brought up the top of the Wildcats’ order. Ryan Scott drew a walk to load the bases then, on a 1-1 pitch, Hohn went the other way for a single between short and third.

In the top of the inning, Landon Pickett had led off with a pinch-hit single through the left side for the Hornets. Caleb Garrett re-entered to run the bases and took second on a nice sacrifice bunt by B.J. Ellis. Hunter Mayall hit a hard bouncer to second and was thrown out as Garrett reached third. Then, on a 2-2 pitch, Garrett Bock hit a slow bouncer to the left side that both Schaller, at short, and third baseman David Hohn charged. Hohn missed it but Shaller fielded the ball only to collide with his teammate allowing Bock to reach with an infield hit and Garrett to score the tying run.

A walk to Jordan Taylor put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Harris gave way to Brooks Howard who threw one pitch, inducing a fly to shallow right to end the inning. He would then be the winning pitcher thanks to the North Little Rock run in the bottom of the frame.

The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the opening inning when Ryan Scott singled up the middle then went to third on a one-out hit by Blake Leisenring. Davidson then got clean-up hitter Brittain Ibbotson to hit a one-hopper back to the mound. Davidson fired to second for the force but the relay to first was in the dirt. Though first baseman Brady Butler knocked it down, Scott scored on the play.

Harris made that stand up until the seventh while Davidson kept the Wildcats from adding on.

The Hornets got two on in the third when Mayall walked and, with two down, Taylor walked. Harris got Joiner to bounce into a force to end the threat, however.

Butler looped a single to right with one out in the top of the fourth for the Hornets’ first hit but he was stranded.

In the fifth, Ellis plugged the gap in right-center for a lead-off double. Hayden Daniel came on to run for the catcher with Mayall coming up. On the first pitch, Mayall lined a screamer that Schaller speared at short. He doubled off Daniel and a promising opportunity was snuffed out on perhaps the hardest-hit ball of the game. It was, unfortunately for the Hornets, hit right at ‘em.

In the sixth, Taylor led off with a single for the Hornets. An out later, Brennan Bullock was hit by an 0-2 pitch. But, with runners at first and second, Harris pitched out of the jam by striking out the next two.

Davidson, meanwhile, surrendered singles to Schaller and Leisenring in the third but worked off the hook. In the fourth, a two-out walk to Byrd and a single by Houser gave North Little Rock a chance but when Byrd tried to swipe third, Ellis gunned him down.

Davidson then set down seven in a row before Byrd’s double in the seventh.

Bryant returns home to play Little Rock Central on Tuesday, April 20.


Bryant (16-7, 2-5) North Little Rock (14-9, 4-3)

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Mayall, dh 2 0 0 0 Scott, rf 3 1 1 0

Bock, cf 4 0 1 1 A.Hohn, cf 4 0 1 1

Taylor, ss 2 0 1 0 Leisenring, dh 3 0 2 0

Wilson, pr 0 0 0 0 Ibbotson, lf 3 0 0 1

Joiner, 2b 4 0 0 0 Howard, 2b-p 3 0 0 0

Bullock, lf 2 0 0 0 D.Hohn, 3b 3 0 0 0

Butler, 1b 3 0 1 0 Byrd, 1b 2 0 1 0

Brown, 3b 3 0 0 0 Hays, pr 0 1 0 0

Garrett, rf 2 1 0 0 Houser, c 3 0 1 0

Pickett, ph 1 0 1 0 Valentine, cr 0 0 0 0

Ellis, c 2 0 1 0 Schaller, ss 3 0 1 0

Daniel, cr 0 0 0 0 Harris, p 0 0 0 0

Davidson, p 0 0 0 0 Whitlock, 2b 0 0 0 0

Wells, p 0 0 0 0

Totals 25 1 5 1 Totals 27 2 7 2

BRYANT 000 000 1 — 1

North Little Rock 100 000 1 — 2

Two out when winning run scored.

E—Byrd, Joiner. DP—North Little Rock 1. LOB—Bryant 9, North Little Rock 7. 2B—Ellis, Byrd. S—Ellis. SB—Mayall.

Pitching ip r er h bb so


Davidson (L) 6.1 2 1 6 1 8

Wells 0.1 0 0 1 1 1


Harris 6.2 1 1 5 3 9

Howard (W) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0

HBP—Mayall, Bullock (by Harris). 

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