Ellis’ clout caps Bryant’s emotional 9-4 win over Catholic
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
LITTLE ROCK — The last time he hit a home run, it didn’t count.
It was in a B game last year and it hit the scoreboard but it was called a ground-rule because it was believed that the ball went under the fence instead of over it.
Before that, it was all the way back to Babe Ruth baseball.
But, on Saturday, April 24, B.J. Ellis, who was wearing teammate Lucas Castleberry’s No. 2 jersey, dropped the hammer on an 0-1 delivery from Little Rock Catholic’s Blaine Tanner. It was a no-doubter, a three-run blast that was the crowning blow of a 9-4 win that knocked the proverbial simian off the shoulders of the Bryant Hornets.[more]
The win snapped a six-game 7A-Central Conference skid, marked by offensive frustrations. The Hornets hammered out 11 hits, more than they’d had in their last three games combined.
Now 17-8 overall, Bryant is 3-6 in the league, still the eighth-placed team in an eight-team conference but they’re only a game behind Catholic, Cabot and Russellville. They now own a sweep (tie-breaker advantage) over the Rockets and still have games to play against Cabot and Russellville.
And new life.
The Hornets host league-leading Van Buren on Monday.
Jordan Taylor, who was wearing Hayden Daniel’s No. 7 jersey, and Ben Wells, who was wearing Dylan Cross’ No. 15 jersey, combined on 3 2/3 innings of no-hit shutout relief behind starter Aaron Davidson, who was wearing Caleb Milam’s No. 22.
Taylor picked up the win and Wells got the team’s first save of the season.
“A complete effort,” declared Hornets head coach Kirk Bock. “Everybody had a part. “A lot of hard work, the last three weeks really. But really this last week, we really pounded on it. We just went back to square one. Everything was fundamental and they did a good job with it. I’m very pleased.”
The game was tied 4-4 going into the sixth inning. Ellis started a Bryant uprising with a solid single to center. Tyler Brown, who had broken the ice for the Hornets with a two-run single in the second, got down a perfect sacrifice bunt to get Daniel (wearing Taylor’s No. 14) to second.
Caleb Garrett (wearing Hunter Mayall’s No. 18) hit a hard grounder into the hole that Catholic shortstop Drew McMahan knocked down. McMahan tried to get the ball to Matt Morris at third to get Daniel but the Bryant freshman got in to third safely.
Mayall (wearing Garrett’s No. 21) followed with a sacrifice fly to left that brought Daniel across the plate before the Rockets cut the ball off and ended the inning with a throw to third to retire Garrett, on a call disputed by Bryant third base coach Frank Fisher.
Still, the Hornets had the lead and Wells came on to pitch. Morris rolled out to first then Wells struck out the next two to send it to the seventh.
Garrett Bock (wearing Marcus Wilson’s No. 11) cracked his second single of the game to right to open the inning. He stole second as Taylor was fanned by Catholic lefty Patrick Gurley, who had relieved starter Taylor Wallace in the second.
Chris Joiner (wearing Ozzie Hurt’s No. 1) hit a hard grounder to third that was booted and the Hornets had two on and one out.
Brennan Bullock (wearing Brady Butler’s No. 3) skied out to right then Butler, on a 1-1 pitch rifled a single to right. Bock came around third and Zach Gibson, the right fielder, charged and threw home. Catholic catcher Aaron Chwalinski came out from the plate to get the ball just as Bock was making a headlong dive at the plate. He made a swipe tag attempt as Bock reached for the plate. Bock was ruled safe and the Rockets’ coaches and fans erupted in protest.
It was ruled that Chwalinski had not tagged Bock. After the game, the Bryant senior said he never felt a tag.
But a heated, extensive argument and an appeal from Rockets coach Dustin Strube ensued. The play stood, however, and Bryant had a 6-4 lead.
Once play resumed, Strube brought in Tanner who got the first strike in on Ellis before the Bryant catcher smacked his homer.
Had Bock been out, it would’ve ended the inning with the score still 5-4. The Rockets’ approach, and certainly their demeanor, might’ve been different in the bottom of the seventh but, as it was, Wells, who was throwing darts, overcame an error that allowed lead-off man Nick Rougeau to reach, retiring the next three, two on strikes.
Both teams picked up gift runs in the opening inning. For Bryant, Mayall (wearing Garrett’s No. 21) drew a lead-off walk, took second on a swinging bunt by Taylor, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
In the bottom of the inning, McMahan singled with one out but was forced at second on a grounder to Davidson by Tanner. Chwalinski beat out an infield hit and, after a passed ball moved runners to second and third, Hunter Rankin walked. With Gibson at the plate, another passed ball allowed McMahan to score.
The bats started waking up for the Hornets in the second. Bullock led off with a bloop single to right then Butler and Ellis drew walks to load the bases. That’s when Brown, on an 0-2 pitch, shot a liner to right-center to drive in two.
Wallace gave way to Gurley and a foiled squeeze play resulted in Daniel, running for Ellis, being tagged out between third and home.
Garrett hit a sharp two-hopper to Morris and Mayall fanned to end the inning.
Davidson pitched around a pair of walks in the bottom of the inning and the Hornets added on with a run in the third. Bock singled to center and Taylor shot a base hit to right-center. But the Rockets turned a doubleplay and Bock was at third with two down and Bullock at the plate. On a pitch in the dirt, Gurley got the third strike on Bullock but Chwalinski had to make the throw to first to complete the play and it sailed past first baseman Chase Barnes allowing Bock to score, making it 4-1.
Davidson worked a 1-2-3 third and Gurley pitched around a walk to Brown and a single to Mayall in the top of the fourth.
When Davidson struck out Gibson to start the bottom of the fourth it was the fifth batter in a row he’d retired. But Morris slapped a single to right then advanced on a wild pitch. Barnes walked. Designated hitter Quinn Gasaway shot Davidson’s next pitch right over the bag at third and into the corner for an RBI double to make it 4-2.
Taylor came on to relieve and got Rougeau to ground to second. Joiner threw to first for the out as pinch-runner Joe Friend scored.
With McMahan at the plate, Taylor had Gasaway picked off at third. Brown, however, eager to apply the tag, dropped the ball and Gasaway raced home with the tying run.
But Gasaway’s hit would be the last one the Rockets would muster.
Gurley surrendred a lead-off double to Taylor in the fifth but, with the infield in, the Hornets hit grounders right at defenders. Wilson, in as a courtesy runner, had to hold and when Gurley got Butler to ground to short, he’s pitched his way out of the jam.
Taylor hit Chwalinski with a pitch with one down in the bottom of the inning but retired the next two to escape. Garrett, in right, chased down a long fly in right-center off Gibson’s bat for the final out, setting up Bryant’s go-ahead uprising in the top of the sixth.
“Blake did a good job,” Coach Bock stated. “He got in trouble in that first inning and got his pitch count up a little bit. But Jordan did a great job of coming in for him and Wells closing the door. It was just a great effort by all these guys.”
A team effort, you might say, which brings us back around to those traded jerseys.
Earlier in the week, the Bryant coach had asked his players to think about which of their teammates they would battle for. He told them he didn’t want them to name their best friend on the team necessarily. When he asked them individually as the day went on, he would tell them to go switch jerseys with that teammate.
When they’d done that, he said, “Now do good for him, play for your teammate.”
BRYANT 9, LITTLE ROCK CATHOLIC 4
Hornets ab r h bi Rockets ab r h bi
Mayall, dh 2 1 1 1 Rougeau, cf 3 0 0 1
Bock, cf 4 2 2 0 McMahan, ss 4 0 1 0
Taylor, ss-p 4 0 2 0 Tanner, 2b-p 4 1 0 0
Wilson, cr 0 0 0 0 Chwalinski, c 3 0 1 0
Joiner, 2b 4 0 0 0 Getchall, cr 0 0 0 0
Wilson, pr 0 1 0 0 Rankin, lf 2 0 0 0
Bullock, lf 4 1 1 0 Gibson, rf 3 0 0 0
Butler, 1b 3 1 1 1 Morris, 3b 3 1 1 0
Jobe, cr 0 1 0 0 Barnes, 1b 2 0 0 0
Ellis, c 3 1 2 3 Friend, pr 0 1 0 0
Daniel, cr 0 1 0 0 Gasaway, dh 2 1 1 1
Brown, 3b 1 0 1 2 Wallace, p 0 0 0 0
Garrett, rf 4 0 1 0 Gurley, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 29 9 11 7 Totals 26 4 4 2
BRYANT 121 001 4 — 9
LR Catholic 100 300 0 — 4
E—Chwalinski, Brown, Morris. DP—LR Catholic 2. LOB—Bryant 7, LR Catholic 6. 2B—Taylor, Gasaway. HR—Ellis. S—Brown. SF—Mayall. SB—Bock, Brown, Garrett, Bullock.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Davidson 3.1 4 2 4 4 2
Taylor (W) 1.2 0 0 0 0 1
Wells (Save) 2 0 0 0 0 4
Wallace 1 3 2 2 3 2
Gurley (L) 5.2 5 1 8 1 4
Tanner 0.1 1 1 1 1 0
Wallace faced four batters in the second.
HBP—Chawlinski (by Taylor). WP—Wallace, Davidson. PB—Ellis 2, Chwalinski 2.