February 18 in Bryant athletic history: 2002

Graddy’s shot, pitching mark Hornets’ win

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 continue 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).

If the first hit is any indication, it should be a fun season for the Bryant Hornets baseball team.

On a day that felt just right for baseball, the Hornets opened the 2002 season with a 8-3 win over the Little Rock Hall Warriors Monday. Five Bryant pitchers limited the Warriors to two hits and without a run until the top of the seventh.

Oh, and that first hit? Senior catcher Cody Graddy crushed a two-run homer to just left of the cavernous centerfield at Hornets Field in the bottom of the first to get the team off and running.

Graddy finished with two hits and a pair of walks and senior center fielder Matt White had a hit and three walks.

Hall didn’t pick up a hit until there were two outs in the fourth as Chance King, the third Hornets pitcher was working through a three-strikeout inning. He would fan six in two frames and his fastball was clocked at 89 miles per hour.

Kevin Littleton started and worked around a couple of walks in the top of the first. The Hornets turned a doubleplay to get out of the inning. Littleton then struck out the side around an error in the second.

Lefty Cody Dreher worked a 1-2-3 third. And after King finished Jeff Carpenter walked one in an easy sixth.

Hall got its second hit in the seventh and all three of its runs as junior Daniel Minton came on for his first varsity appearance. Minton struck out the first and last man he faced but in between walked a man, hit another, balked twice and threw a wild pitch. The first run scored on the single, the second on the balk and the third on a ground out.

But that was academic at that point. After Graddy’s shot in the first, Bryant added a run in the third. Graddy led off with a single and courtesy runner Zack Cardinal swiped second — the first of three stolen bases for him. A wild pitch sent Cardinal to third and two outs later, he raced home when Clay Jones reached on an error.

In the fourth, White drew a one-out walk and was balked to second. He swiped third and scored on a wild pitch. Graddy walked and Cardinal stole second as Derek Chambers drew a free pass. Dreher then singled in a run. Walks to Jones and Carpenter followed, forcing in the final run of the inning.

Bryant added another tally in the sixth. Carpenter singled and so did Scott Peeler. A walk to Andrew Norman loaded the bases but Carpenter was out trying to come home on a short passed ball. Peeler moved up to third on the play and scored moments later on an errant pitch to make it 8-0.

“First game, I couldn’t ask much more than that,” stated Hornets head coach Terry Harper. “The intensity was there at the beginning. There was a little letdown toward the end. For the most part, the pitchers did a pretty good job. We got to throw five guys and I think everybody got into the ballgame at one point or another.

“Some of the guys we’re counting on stepped up and did some good things,” he added. “Some of the other guys struggled a little bit but they’re going to be right there for us. We just did the things we needed to do to win. There’s a lot of room for improvement. We’ve got a long ways to go to be where we need to be in the AAAAA-South.”

The Hornets were scheduled to return to action on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 8:45 p.m., against Malvern in the first round of the Benton Panthers Invitational.

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