HOT SPRINGS — Senior Noah Davis belted a grand slam and freshman Gideon Motes lashed a three-run triple to spark the Bryant Hornets to an early lead then a quartet of pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout over five innings on the way to a 15-0 win in a pre-season benefit game at Lakeside on Thursday night.
The Rams, a Class 5A school, are now coached by former Hornet Garrett Bock with one of his assistants another former Hornets, Korey Thompson.
It’s an indication of how good the Hornets’ pitching is and will be that, despite handcuffing the Rams, and combining for eight strikeouts and just three walks — and two of Lakeside’s hits were scratch hits off the gloves of Bryant infielders — that Hornets coach Travis Queck had mixed reviews.
“Pitchers,” he said, “that’s one disappointment. We started behind in the count way too much. But you know what? Overall, first game, I thought they did a good job.”
Will Hathcote started and fanned five in two innings. He allowed one of those scratch hits and walked one. Turner Seelinger walked one and fanned one in an inning of relief. Tyler Bates worked around a walk and another infield knock to start the fourth. He fanned one. Then Motes finished up, working around a.
And that didn’t even include ace Austin Ledbetter, who got in a bullpen after the game.
The Hornets finished with nine hits including three by Davis and two by Seelinger. Lead-off man Ryan Riggs was 1 for 1 with three walks. He, and courtesy runner Logan White, scored four times.
“I liked the way we bounced back,” said Queck. “When I say bounced back — I could kind of tell they were a little nervous, you know, pre-game. The pre-game didn’t go quite the way — we have a routine, and we work on that routine every day.
“But they relaxed a little bit,” he noted. “They got on base early and we got some runs across and that really lightened the mood.”
Riggs walked to start the game then Davis beat out an infield hit on a grounder into the hole at short. With one out, Seelinger yanked a single to left to load the bases.
But Lakeside starter, Andrew Cox, got the second out on strikes and put himself in position to get out of the jam when he got a strike in on Motes. But, on a 1-1 delivery, Motes pulled a liner down the right-field line for a bases-loaded triple.
“That was very good to see from Motes-y,” Queck said. “And it was with two outs. That was huge because the momentum kind of shifts there. It goes back to, ‘Oh, crap,’ the pre-game feeling because we just didn’t execute. Motes came through big right there.”
Hathcote struck out the first two in the bottom of the inning and, after issuing a walk to Peyton Ballard, got clean-up hitter Ethan Cevela on a comebacker that hit Hathcote and rolled away but not far enough for Cevela to beat the pitcher’s throw to first.
In the second, Blaine Sears led off with a walk for Bryant. Jordan Knox was hit by a pitch and Riggs got a bunt down. Cox fielded it and looked at third where the speedy Sears was getting in with ease. Cox turned to throw to first but Riggs, hustling all the way, beat the rap and the bases were loaded for Davis.
After taking a ball, Riggs unloaded for a drive to deep left for his slam.
“Noah’s a little guy with a lot of pop,” Queck said. “I’m proud of him, happy for him.”
When Cox hit Ledbetter, he was relieved by lefty Wyatt Gipson, who worked out of the inning.
Hathcote struck out the side in the second around a one-out single by Chace Tittle.
Gipson struggled in the third. He walked Lawson Speer who stole second. He fanned Sears but his third-strike pitch got away from Cevela, his catcher and Sears reach safely as Lawson scooted to third.
After Sears swiped second, Knox was hit again, on a 2-0 pitch, loading the bases once more.
This time, Riggs drew a free pass for an RBI.
Peyton Ballard became Lakeside’s third pitcher. He got Davis to hit a chopper to third where Cox had moved. With Sears coming home, Cox charged the ball and fired to the plate. But Cevela’s foot had come off the plate and Sears was safe with Bryant’s ninth run.
A walk to Ledbetter forced in Knox then Seelinger made it 11-0 with a sacrifice fly to plate White who was in running for Riggs.
Ballard got the last two outs of the inning then worked a 1-2-3 fourth.
In Lakeside’s third, Seelinger issued a one-out walk to Brennan Browning but then got Cox to ground into a doubleplay, nicely turned by Davis at short.
In the bottom of the fourth, Bates walked Ballard then surrendered the infield hit by Cevela. A roller to Seelinger at third was the first out. Bates then fanned Tittle and got Rogers to fly to Speer in center.
With rain coming down, the Hornets finished the romp with four more in the fifth. Riggs walked, Davis singled, and Ledbetter beat out an infield hit to load the bases. White, in once again to run for Riggs, the Bryant catcher, sprinted home on a wild pitch. Seelinger then ripped an RBI single to center. Connor Martin delivered a pinch-hit sacrifice fly and, with two down, Speer looped a single to right to bring in Seelinger from second.
Motes retired the first two in the bottom of the inning then Browning lined a single to left. But Motes got Cox to bounce out to Davis at second to end the game.
The Hornets officially open the season at Pulaski Robinson on Monday at 4 p.m., when they’ll play Greenbrier.