By Rob Patrick
CABOT — When the first four batters in your batting order combine for 10 hits including four for extra bases, eight[more] runs and seven knocked in, more likely than not, victory is in the mix. And when your starting pitcher only allows two unearned runs on four hits over the first five frames, it’s all but in the bag.
That was the scenario that played out for the Bryant Black Sox as they made their season debut against the Cabot Centennial Bank Panthers at Cabot City Park on Monday. The result was an 11-5 win in a nine-inning Senior American Legion contest.
Hunter Mayall and Tyler Nelson had three hits each, Jordan Taylor, Landon Pickett and Tyler Brown two each to lead the way offensively. And, fresh from his performance as the MVP of the Class 7A State Tournament, Nate Rutherford turned in the pitching performance mentioned previously. Tryce Schalchlin relieved in the sixth and picked up a four-inning save.
The Sox will make their home debut on Wednesday against Benton McClendon’s.
“We wanted to come out aggressive,” said Black Sox coach Wayne Taylor. “We didn’t do a lot of bunting or stealing or that type of thing. We wanted to let them swing the bat and get in a groove. And I thought they did.”
Indeed, Bryant built an 8-0 lead over the first three at-bats, using nine hits to take advantage of six walks by Cabot starter Brandon Surdam, a redshirt freshman at Henderson State University.
“We had a couple of innings in there when we to sleep a bit and let them off the hook but overall, I thought we swung it real well,” Taylor noted. “The pitching was good, the defense was good. It was good overall effort.”
The Sox were a hit away from taking the game in a run-rule in seven innings, leading 9-2. Cabot scored three of its runs in the last two frames.
A four-run first put Bryant on the winning path. Hunter Mayall, who played some as a freshman at Henderson State, greeted his Reddie teammate with a patented shot into the gap in left-center for a double on the first pitch of the game. Nelson beat out an infield hit and stole second then Jordan Taylor walked to load the bags for Pickett, who red-shirted as a freshman this spring at Southern Arkansas University. Pickett bounced a single up the middle to drive in the game’s first two runs.
Josh Pultro, the leading hitter on Bryant High School’s 2012 Class 7A State championship team, worked a walk to fill the bags again then Surdam issued a pass to Hayden Lessenberry to force in the third run. Pickett came home when Ozzie Hurt grounded into a force at second.
Surdam managed a two-out double against Rutherford in the bottom of the inning and, though the Panthers appeared to get a break when Surdam was ruled safe at third when he’d been picked off at second, the Sox’ right-hander induced an inning-ending grounder to third by Cole Thomas.
Singles by Nelson, Taylor and Lessenberry produced a run in the Bryant second, making it 5-0. Lessenberry’s RBI knock came with two down. In turn, Rutherford worked around a one-out single to Justin Goff and a two-out hit batsman to keep Cabot off the board.
The Sox went back to work at the plate in the top of the third with Taylor providing the crowning blow. Brown had looped a single over short to open the inning. He took second on a passed ball and, with one out, Mayall, who was on base five times, walked on four pitches. The runners advanced to second and third on a grounder to first by Nelson then Surdam got behind Taylor 3-0. Given the green light, Taylor blasted a home run into the twilight sky well beyond the right-field fence, making it 8-0.
Cabot’s first unearned run scored in the bottom of the third. Casey Vaughan singled with one out and reached second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Scott Burnett’s single brought him home. Rutherford, however, kept it there despite a balk that allowed Burnett to go to second. Thomas struck out then T.C. Carter bounced to Brown at third. He tagged Burnett for the final out.
Vaughan relieved Surdam in the fourth and the Sox were retired in order. But then so were the Panthers in the bottom of the inning, thanks in part to a nice defensive play at second by Hurt.
Mayall laced another double to start the fifth. Nelson singled him home to make it 9-1. Cabot got the run back, though, in the bottom of the inning. Bryson Morris was hit by a pitch with one out, stole second and took third on a passed ball. Rutherford incudes a comebacker from Vaughan and when Morris eased away from third, the Bryant hurler fired to Brown to try to nail him. But Morris snuck in under the tag as Vaughan reached first.
With two out, Vaughan was on the move as Rutherford began a fake-to-third, throw-to-first pick-off move. A throw to second, however, was errant and Morris scored. Vaughan wound up at third but got no further as Rutherford struck out Thomas to end the inning with Bryant up 9-2.
The Sox tried to steal a run in the sixth. With one out, Lessenberry had walked but was forced at second on Hurt’s grounder to short. Brown followed with a base hit to the right side. Cabot second sacker Chip Morris ranged into the hole to get a glove on the ball but it ricocheted away from him and Hurt hustled to third, just beating Morris’ throw.
With two strikes on the next batter, Marcus Wilson, Nelson left early from first and drew a throw. But Thomas, the Cabot shortstop, did a good job cutting the ball off and relaying back to the plate in time to retire Hurt.
After Schalchlin pitched around a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, the Sox made one more bid to make it an eight-run lead (to produce the run-rule) in the top of the seventh. Mayall drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and, after Bryson Morris relieved for Cabot, took third on a grounder to first by Nelson. Morris got Taylor to ground out to short to send it to the home seventh.
Schalchlin set down the Panthers in order, however, with Nelson making a nice running catch in left-center to help out. Morris, in turn, worked a 1-2-3 eight.
In the bottom of the inning, Schalchlin eased past Burnet and Thomas. Carter, however, drilled the first pitch he saw over the fence in left to make it 9-3.
A walk to Goff and a single by Chip Morris gave Cabot hope for more but Schalchlin struck out Tristan Bulice on three pitches to end the inning.
The Sox responded with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth. Hurt drew a lead-off walk and Brown reached on an error by Thomas. Wilson blasted a long fly to right that fell at the foot of the fence but because neither of the base-runners was sure it wouldn’t be caught, they only advanced one base. So, with the bases full, Mayall finished off his Sox return with a sharp single to right, driving in Hurt. Brown scored moments later when Nelson bounced into a doubleplay.
Bryson Morris drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth and Vaughan pulled a shot down the line in left. When the throw from the outfield was off-line, Morris scored and Vaughan wound up at third. Burnett’s sacrifice fly made it 11-5.
Cabot fueled its comeback hopes with a walk to Thomas and a double by Carter that nearly went out. But, after a visit from Coach Taylor, Schalchlin got the final out as Goff flew to Nelson in center.
BRYANT BLACK SOX 11, CABOT CENTENNIAL BANK PANTHERS 5
Senior American Legion
Black Sox ab r h bi Panthers ab r h bi
Mayall, dh 4 3 3 1 B.Morris, cf-p 3 2 0 0
Nelson, cf 6 2 3 1 Vaughan, rf-p-cf 4 2 1 0
Taylor, ss 5 2 2 3 Surdam, p 1 0 1 0
Pickett, 1b 5 1 2 2 Burnett, rf 3 0 1 2
Pultro, rf 2 0 0 0 Thomas, ss 4 0 0 0
Lessenberry, c 2 0 1 2 Carter, c-1b 5 1 2 1
Graddy, c 1 0 0 0 Goff, 3b 4 0 2 0
Hurt, 2b 4 1 0 1 C.Morris, 2b 4 0 1 0
Brown, 3b 5 2 2 0 Bulice, 1b-c 3 0 0 0
Wilson, lf 5 0 1 0 Bell, lf 4 0 0 0
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0
Schalchlin, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 39 11 14 10 Totals 36 5 8 3
BRYANT 413 010 002 — 11
Cabot 001 010 012 — 5
E—Nelson, Rutherford, Wilson, Thomas. DP—Cabot 2. LOB—Bryant 10, Cabot 10. 2B—Mayall 2, Surdam, Pickett, Vaughan, Carter. HR—Taylor, Carter. SB—Nelson, Surdam, Morris, Brown. SF—Burnett.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Rutherford (W) 5 2 0 4 0 4
Schalchlin (S) 4 3 3 5 3 2
Surdam (L) 3 8 8 9 6 3
Vaughan 3.1 1 1 3 2 1
B.Morris 2.2 2 0 2 1 1
Balk—Rutherford. HBP—Bulice, B.Morris (by Rutheford). PB—Bulice 4, Lessenberry.