Photos by Kevin Nagle
Left-hander Evan Lee extended the Bryant Hornets’ scoreless streak to 17 innings to start the 2016 season and, though the El Dorado Wildcats scratched out a couple of runs in the sixth off reliever Ty Medford, the right-hander started a new scoreless streak by closing the game out by breezing through the seventh in the Hornets’ 8-2 win at Bryant High School Field on Friday night.
Lee and Jake East each had two hits in the game. Logan Allen added a double but his streak of reaching base in 10 consecutive plate appearances was snapped. Joey Cates also smacked a double. Aaron Orender had a hit.
Lee, the preseason pick as Player of the Year in Arkansas, fanned 11, walked two and gave up just one hit in his five innings. The lone hit was a single to lead off the third inning by Noah Gaul. Though he stole second, Gaul was stranded when Lee struck out the side.
The Hornets didn’t score until the third. Wildcats’ starter Jackson Waldrum had a wobbly start when he walked Dylan Hurt and Lee in the first and, with two down, Cates reached on an error to load the bases. But he wriggled out of the jam then worked around a two-out error in the second.
The third opened with Allen’s double. A wild pitch allowed him to go to third as Hurt drew another walk. Courtesy runner, Jordan Gentry swiped second then Lee drew another pass to fill the sacks. Garrett Misenheimer drove in a run with a grounder to short. El Dorado made a pitching change and Gage Otwell got the second out before East came through with an RBI single. Seth Tucker reached on an error and the Hornets led 3-0.
Lee worked through a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, fanning another batter. Orender, in turn, ignited a four-run fourth for the Hornets, cracking a lead-off single. Allen reached base then Hurt got a bunt down that was misplayed. El Dorado threw it around and two runs scored with Hurt winding up at third. Lee singled him in then swiped second and, with two down, East came through in the clutch with an RBI single.
Lee struck out the side around a walk in the top of the fifth and, in the home half, Orender reached on an error and stole second but was stranded.
The Wildcats’ Blake Cunningham greeted Medford with a single to start the top of the sixth. He moved up on Brennan Smith’s grounder to Tucker at second and scored on Rhett Conner’s double. Medford retired the next batter on a grounder to Misenheimer at third but a wild pitch as Leighton Turbeville walked, moved Connor to third. Medford appeared to be out of the inning when he fanned Connor Cates on a pitch in the dirt but an errant throw to first allowed Rhett Connor to score, making it 7-2.
Lee singled to start the bottom of the sixth but the Wildcats turned a doubleplay. Joey Cates, however, kept the inning going with his two-bagger. He scored to make it 8-2 when East’s grounder to second was misplayed.
Medford closed it out forcefully. After issuing a one-out walk to the nine-hole hitter Micah Haney, he fanned the next two.
Now 3-0 on the season, the Hornets return to action on Tuesday, March 8, when they host the Watson Chapel Wildcats. They’ll make their annual trip to Waco, Texas for the Midway Classic March 10-12.