Bryant bedevils Jacksonville
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).
By ROB PATRICK
LITTLE ROCK — None of the runs in the game between the Bryant Hornets and the Jacksonville Red Devils Monday night were earned as both teams committed three errors. But the Hornets made the Devils pay more dearly and, behind the three-hit pitching of Michael McClellan and Zack Dickson, extracted a 5-2 win in the first round of pool play at the J.A. Fair Tournament.
The Hornets, 2-1, were set to play Little Rock Central Tuesday afternoon in another pool play contest.
Jacksonville was bedeviled by infield pops in Monday’s contest. Three times in the first two innings, the Red Devils failed to field infield flies and the Hornets took advantage to build a 5-1 lead.
McClellan picked up the victory with six innings of moundwork. He fanned five, walked four and surrendered just three hits and two unearned runs. Dickson worked a 1-2-3 seventh for his first varsity save.
Bryant took the lead in the first when Matt White walked and stole second and, an out later, McClellan’s high pop on the infield fell in front of shortstop Josh Ruple.
Jacksonville starter Jordan O’Roark came back to strike out Brandon Nichols but his first pitch to Anthony Rose was clubbed deep down the left-field line for a three-run homer.
The Devils got one of those runs back in the top of the second when Dustin Cole sliced a one-out double to right-center. After White flagged down a liner to center by Jimmy Palmer for the second out of the inning, Nate Rich tapped a roller to the right side. Rose, the first baseman, ranged far to his left to field it then tried to make a snap throw to McClellan covering the bag only to have it zip past the Hornet pitcher for an error as Cole scored.
A walk and a wild pitch put the potential tying runs in scoring position for the Red Devils, but McClellan got out of the jam by fanning Ruple, the lead-off man for Jacksonville.
In turn, the Hornets added to their lead in the bottom of the frame. With one out, the Devils allowed Travis Lawhon’s infield fly to drop as O’Roark backed off of it at the last minute.
Lawhon stole second then took third on a single to left by Drew Lawson.
After courtesy runner Kevin Littleton swiped second, White fanned for the second out of the inning. And when Dustin Morris popped up on the infield, it looked like Jacksonville was out of trouble.
But Rich, the Devils’ second baseman, couldn’t get to the ball as it landed near the mound and the two-out error allowed both Lawhon and Littleton to score to make it 5-1.
McClellan worked around a lead-off single in the top of the third. White helped out with another nice running catch in center.
In the fourth, a one-out chop was hit to third by Palmer. Third-sacker Zack Dickson tried to play the short hop and couldn’t come up with it for an error. An out later, though, Dickson charged in to field Bryan Harbour’s bunt and threw him out to end the inning.
McClellan retired the side in order in the top of the fifth, striking out two.
O’Roark, meanwhile, retired the last seven Hornets he faced then gave way to Steven Wolff in the bottom of the fifth. Morris greeted him with a solid double to right-center and, an out later, Nichols worked a walk. Rose skied to center and Morris tried to tag up only to be gunned down by Steven Lee to end the inning.
McClellan showed signs of tiring in the top of the sixth. He issued a one-out walk to Jason Wolff then a single to Cole. But courtesy runner Alex Mack, in for Wolff, was thrown out trying to get to third on a nice relay from White to shortstop Chris Sory to Dickson.
But a two-out grounder to Sory off Palmer’s bat drew a throw that forced Rose off the bag. As Palmer reached, Cole headed for third, drawing a return throw from Rose that sailed over Dickson’s head allowing the run to score.
Palmer wound up at second but he was stranded there when McClellan struck out Rich to retire the side.
The Hornets went down in order in the bottom of the sixth but Dickson set the Devils down 1-2-3 in the seventh to close out the win.