SANFORD, Fla. — Right-hander Dylan Cross scattered nine hits — eight of them singles — and walked[more] just one as he shut out the Palm Beach Central Broncos of Wellington, Fla., Thursday.
The Broncos feature a trio of players that are headed to Division I programs. First baseman Brady Roberson will be headed to the University of Florida, catcher Hunter Morey has committed to the Air Force Academy, and Ian Hagenmiller, a third baseman that has verbally committed to the University of Miami. The trio combined to go 2 for 9 against Cross and the Hornets.
With the win, Bryant finished pool play 2-1 and second in pool B of the Florida League High School Invitational Tournament. The Hornets will play the second-place team from Pool A on Friday at 4:30 p.m. (probably against King’s Academy of West Palm Beach, Fla.).
At the plate, Cross helped his own cause with a 3-for-4 performance. Tyler Nelson was 2 for 2 with a walk and an RBI.
The Hornets built an early 4-0 lead. In the first, Nelson singled but was forced at second on a bunt back to the mound by Hayden Lessenberry. With Marcus Wilson in to run for the Bryant catcher, Jordan Taylor smacked a double. Wilson raced all the way home from first. An out later, Cross traded places with Taylor, with another double to make it 2-0.
Gage Morey opened the bottom of the inning with a single but the Hornets turned a doubleplay and Cross fanned Roberson to end the inning.
Bryant jumped on Broncos’ starter John Padich for two more in the second inning. Trevor Ezell led off with a walk. He was sacrificed to second by Hayden Daniel. A base hit by Ozzie Hurt put runners at first and third for Nelson who lifted a sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-0.
Lessenberry kept the inning going with a walk and, with Taylor at the plate, Padish unleashed a pair of wild pitches that allowed Hurt to score.
Palm Beach Central made some noise in the bottom of the inning after Cross fanned Hagenmiller and got Gabe Martinez to bounce out to Hurt at second. Danny Hernandez and Gage Morey each singled and Kevin Autry walked to load the bases. Shawn Murray came up and bounced to Nelson at short for an inning-ending force at second.
In the third, Padich pitched around a single by Cross and, in turn, the Hornets’ hurler surrendered a single by Gage Morey and a one-out double to Roberson. With one out and Hagenmiller at the plate, Cross picked off Morey at third. After a rundown in which Lessenberry, the Hornets’ catcher made the tag, Roberson tried to sneak into third but Nelson was over from shortstop to cover the bag in time to take the throw and apply the tag that ended the inning.
Bryant head coach Kirk Bock called that the key play of the game.
In the fourth, Nelson singled with two down but was thrown out by Hunter Morey when he tried to steal second. For the Broncos, Martinez Hernandez and Aubry each singled but Cross got out of the inning by getting Murray to ground to Taylor at third for a force.
Lance Stiles relieved for Central in the fifth and worked around a hit batsman (Josh Pultro) and a single by Cross. In turn, Cross hit Gage Morey and Joe Shue singled but Roberson and Hagenmiller each flew out to left and Martinez grounded to second to keep it 4-0.
Bryant tacked on an insurance run in the sixth. Ezell led off with a single, took second on Daniel’s sacrifice and scored on an errant pickoff throw. Nelson drew a walk and, after a pitching change, Lessenberry singled but both were stranded.
Cross struck out two in a 1-2-3 home sixth then worked around a hit batsman in the seventh as the Hornets turned a game-ending doubleplay.