Ezell’s two-out, two-run double sends Bryant past Texarkana for Zone tourney title
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting 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
SHERIDAN — When the Bryant Black Sox Junior American Legion team last met their counterparts from[more] Texarkana, it was a hastily arranged game on Saturday, June 25, at Bishop Park.
It got a little chippy. In fact, more than a little.
The visitors, on their way to an 11-2 win, had a few choice words for the Sox and their coaches. In fact, in the bottom of the ninth, it got so bad that Sox manager Jimmy Parker pulled his team off the field after the first out was recorded.
So, what do you know but on Wednesday night at Oliver Williams Field, there’s the Sox and there’s the Razorbacks pitted against each other again for the championship of the Zone 4 Tournament, both having earned bids to the Junior Legion State tourney. Texarkana was an out away from the win it needed to force a winner-take-all final.
But the Hogs never got that out.
Trailing 4-3, the Sox had Cody Gogus, who had singled with one out in the inning, at first with two down. Zach Graddy worked a walk and, a pitch later, Chase Tucker was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Trevor Ezell.
One of several 15-year-olds on the Black Sox team, Ezell has been splendid at shortstop and has shown a knack for bunting. But this time, he battled to a 3-2 count then ripped a gapper to right-center that made 5-4 winners and tourney champions of the Sox as Gogus and Graddy sprinted home.
It was a sweet victory, particularly in light of the last meeting between the two teams, which, by the way, is the last time the Sox, now 17-3-1, have lost.
Bryant will open play at State, back in Sheridan, this Friday at noon against the runner-up team from Zone 3 (north-central Arkansas including North Little Rock, Cabot and others).
Blain Jackson, the right-hander who had made his Legion debut in the previous game against Texarkana after recovering from a knee injury, picked up the win in relief of starter Zach Cambron, who pitched effectively over the first 4 1/3 innings.
The dramatic finish was the final saw in a seesaw battle. Bryant had taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Tyler Green’s drive to center was played into a double. An out later, Marcus Wilson drove him in with a triple. Gogus, who was 3-for-3 in the game, singled to plate Wilson.
Cambron had worked through a 1-2-3 first with the help of Graddy, his catcher, who threw out Jacob Alexander, a would-be base-stealer who had led off the game with a walk. In the second, Texarkana took advantage of three walks with a double to tie the game 2-2.
Texarkana starter Taylor Burney settled in after his rough first and kept it 2-2 until the Sox regained the lead with a run in the fourth. Ezell reached on an error and Daniel Richards singled him to third. Green came through with a sacrifice fly to snap the tie.
Cambron retired the first two in the top of the fifth but couldn’t get out of the inning after that. Trey Jeans singled, Jackson Murphy walked and Dalton McCarty singled to tie the game. A hit by Colton Redfearn gave Texarkana the 4-3 lead it took to the seventh.
Jackson got the final out of the fifth then worked around a pair of singles in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, a two-out double by Redfearn was followed by Kyle Duncan getting hit by a pitch. But Jackson got Chase Norman to ground out to short to end the inning.
The Sox had threatened in the fifth when Gogus singled and Graddy reached on a throwing error with one out. With runners at second and third, however, Texarkana relief pitcher Nathan Stubber worked his way out of the jam to preserve the lead. He went on to retire the side in order in the sixth and strike out two around Gogus’ seventh-inning single.