First-pitch hits fuel Bryant rally in 11-3 win over Hope
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
Trailing 3-1 going into the bottom of the fifth Saturday, the Bryant Black Sox batters decided to get aggressive with Hope Wildcats right-hander Kevin Aaron.
While limiting the Sox to one run on three hits through four innings, Aaron had piled up 68 pitches. In the fifth, however, the first six Bryant batters went after the first pitch. Five of them stroked base hits and the sixth cracked a sacrifice fly.
The Sox scored five times to gain the upper hand in the game and went on to an 11-3 win at the Zone 4 Senior American Legion tournament at Bryant High School Field.The Sox, regular-season champs of the league, had received a first-round bye and, with the win over Hope, advanced to the winners bracket final today at 4 p.m., where they’ll meet second-seeded Texarkana. The winner will not only advance to the championship round but will clinch a spot in the Senior Legion State Tournament in Jonesboro next weekend.The loser will have to beat the survivor of the losers bracket on Monday to earn a State bid and a shot at the Zone crown.
Hope was set to play Little Rock Express in an elimination game on Sunday at 1 with the survivor taking on Pine Bluff Simmons at 7.
Bryant’s Brady Butler continued his fine pitching, going seven innings, allowing three runs and six hits without a walk. Matt Neal threw the final two innings to finish out the win.
Hope had taken a 1-0 lead in the second when Dillon Gore singled and, after Butler struck out the next two, Jacob McCloud tripled him home. But Butler induced a grounder to short off the bat of the next hitter, Zach Winfield, to force the Wildcats to strand McCloud at third.
For Bryant, Chris Joiner drew a lead-off walk in the second then advanced to second on a balk. Josh Pultro cracked a drive to left-center only to have Hope’s Bodie Phillips, who red-shirted this spring at Southern Arkansas University, ranged over and flagged it down to rob him of extra bases.
Butler worked a 1-2-3 third, however, and Bryant tied it in the home half. With two down, Tyler Brown drew a four-pitch walk. Jordan Taylor followed with Bryant’s first hit a grounder through the right side for a single. Landon Pickett worked the count to 3-2 and, with the runners going, blooped a single into center bringing Brown around with the tying tally.
Butler had eased to the first two outs of the fourth but, a strike away from ending the inning, he was touched for a single up the middle by Taylor Wood. Cody Engstrom then yanked a 1-1 pitch to left for a two-run homer.
McCloud doubled but Butler got out of the inning with no further damage thanks to a nice play by Hunter Mayall, his first baseman, who reached over the fence just beyond the first-base dugout to grab foul pop, ending the inning.
Bryant’s breakout fifth began with a single to center by Brown. On the next pitch, Taylor singled to right. Brown hustled to third and, on the next delivery, he scored on Pickett’s sacrifice fly. Joiner beat out an infield hit on the first pitch he got and, on the next one, Pultro drilled a single to left to load the bases for Lucas Castleberry who, on the first delivery he got, ripped a two-run single to right to give Bryant a 4-3 edge.
Aaron and B.J. Ellis battled to a 3-2 count with Castleberry swiping second along the way. Aaron got the strikeout but Caleb Garrett’s grounder to short was booted and Pultro scored to make it 5-3.
After a pitching change, Garrett left early and got into a rundown. While checking on Castleberry at third, Hope worked Garrett toward second. But an errant throw from first allowed Garrett to reach safely while Castleberry sprinted home with Bryant’s sixth run.
Butler worked another 1-2-3 sixth and his teammates added a run to the lead in the bottom of the frame. With two out, Pickett walked, Joiner singled to left and Pultro beat out an infield hit. A wild pitch allowed Pickett to score.
An error and a stolen base had McCloud at second early in the top of the seventh but Butler retired the next three on flies to the outfield to finish up his work for the day.
Bryant broke the game open in the bottom of the inning. Ellis walked, advance to second on a wild pitch and third on a base hit by Garrett. And when Garrett stole second, an errant throw allowed Ellis to score. Garrett swiped third as well and, after Mayall walked and Hope brought in Ryan Huntze to pitch, Brown got a bunt down that not only got Garrett home but went for a hit.
A walk to Taylor loaded the bases for Pickett, who picked up his third RBI when he was hit by a pitch forcing in a run. Brown would score on a wild pitch moments later and the Sox had an 11-3 advantage.
Neal retired six of the seven he faced over the final two innings including two on strikeouts. The lone baserunner reached on an error.
The Black Sox improved to 16-6 on the season with the victory.
BRYANT 11, HOPE 3
Senior American Legion
Zone 4 tournament
Wildcats ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Clayton, ss 4 0 0 0 Mayall, 1b 5 1 0 0
Wilson, c 4 0 1 0 Brown, 3b 3 3 2 1
Phillips, cf 4 0 0 0 Taylor, ss 4 1 2 0
Gore, rf 4 1 1 0 Pickett, dh 2 1 1 3
Wood, 2b 4 1 1 0 Jobe, pr-dh 0 0 0 0
Engstrom, 1b 4 1 1 2 Joiner, lf 4 1 2 0
McCloud, lf-p 4 0 2 1 Pultro, cf 5 1 2 0
Winfield, dh 2 0 0 0 Castleberry, 2b 4 1 2 2
Aaron, p-lf 1 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b 1 0 0 0
Huntze, p 1 0 0 0 Ellis, c 4 1 0 0
Cunningham, 3b 3 0 0 0 Garrett, rf 4 1 1 0
Totals 35 3 6 3 Totals 36 11 12 7
Hope 010 200 000 — 3
BRYANT 001 051 40x — 11
E—Wood, Clayton, Engstrom, Taylor 2. LOB—Hope 5, Bryant 5. 2B—McCloud. 3B—McCloud. HR—Engstrom. SB—McCloud, Castleberry, Garrett 2. S—Garrett. SF—Pickett.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Aaron (L) 4.2 6 4 8 3 3
McCloud 1.1 4 4 2 2 0
Huntze 2 1 1 1 1 0
Butler (W) 7 3 3 6 0 4
Neal 2 0 0 0 0 2
Balk—Aaron. HBP—Pickett (by Huntze). WP—Butler, McCloud 2, Huntze.