Bryant rallies for first victory
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).
Senior Billy Landers went 3-for-4 and sparked a pair of rallies as the Bryant Hornets came back from a 7-2 deficit to earn an 11-8 victory over the Little Rock Central Tigers Monday in the baseball season opener for both teams.
It was the debut of Bryant High School alum Terry Harper as head coach of the team.
Harper got work for six different pitchers with senior J.J. Yant working the final three frames and giving up just one run to earn the victory.
Landers scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. He doubled with one out and scored when Yant reached base on an error.
Michael McClellan and Jason Roberts worked scoreless innings on the mound to start the game for the Hornets. But, in the third, Central put together a three-run uprising against lefty Anthony Rose to take the lead.
The Hornets trimmed a run off that margin in the bottom of the third when Landers walked and swiped second. Walks to Yant and McClellan followed to load the bases with one out. Kris Kuykendall then grounded into a force at second that allowed Landers to score.
But Central answered with another uprising, scoring four times on four hits. Right-hander Daniel Bennett started the inning then, with one out and two on, gave way to Josh Caldwell. He gave up an RBI single then retired the next two to get out of the inning.
The Hornets began their comeback in the bottom of the inning. Travis Lawhon and Joey Brown earned walks to get things started then Dustin Morris singled. A run scored when Brandon Fitts reached safely on an error then Landers cracked a triple that chased both Brown and Morris home. Fitts was called out for not sliding on a close play at the plate.
With two down, however, Yant delivered a clutch RBI single to make it a 7-6 ballgame.
After Yant worked a 1-2-3 top of the fifth, the Hornets climbed into the lead with a five-run outburst in the home half of the frame.
Caldwell was hit by a pitch to get things started then consecutive walks to Lawhon, Brown and Morris forced in the tying run. With one out, Landers cracked a double to put the Hornets ahead. An out later, McClellan made it 11-7 with another two-bagger.
Yant worked around a pair of singles in the top of the sixth with the help of a pair of strikeouts.
The Hornets loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning when Caldwell was hit by a pitch and Brown and Chris Sory each walked, but all three were stranded.
In the top of the seventh, Central managed a run on a double and an error before Yant got the first out on a fly to left then fanned the next two to finish off the Tigers.
The Hornets return to action this weekend in Shreveport, La., for the annual Arkansas-Louisiana Challenge. Bryant will join Fayetteville, Texarkana and Little Rock Mills as representatives from Arkansas against four top teams from Louisiana.
On Tuesday, March 2, they travel to Little Rock to take on Catholic High School with the Rockets returning the favor with a date at Bryant’s Ashley Park on Thursday, March 4.