Photo by Rick Nation
Senior Night for the Bryant Hornets turned into a baseball party on Friday night — a 22 runs on 22 hits party in which the Hornets run-ruled the Greenwood Bulldogs twice, 11-0 and 11-1. Senior Drew Tipton, who was 7 for 8 in the twinbill, put the finishing touched on both games belting a two-run triple (and scoring on an error) in the first one then cracking an RBI triple to complete the second one.
The Hornets got splendid pitching as well. Blake Patterson fired a three-hit shutout in the opener. Evan Lee, with fifth-inning relief from Alex Shurtleff, was the winning pitcher in the nightcap. Combined they allowed six hits. The only run was unearned.
The victory improved the Hornets to 27-2 overall this season, 12-2 in the 7A/6A-Conference overall. They’ll play a final tune-up game for the Class 7A State Tournament on Monday, meeting El Dorado at Ouachita Baptist University. Bryant is the No. 2 seed from the Central going into State. They’ll start defense of their 2014 State title against Rogers Heritage at 12:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 14, at Bentonville.
“I thought our seniors had a big night,” said Hornets coach Kirk Bock. “They did a very, very good job and they showed their leadership.
“I didn’t know exactly how focused we were after our pre-game,” he added. “But we came out and we did what we were supposed to do. Greenwood couldn’t throw their No. 1 or No. 2 because they’ve got State tournament games coming up just like us.”
Greenwood will play in the Class 6A State tourney at Texarkana.
Patterson allowed a two-out double in the second to Ryan Daggs, a two-out single in the fourth to Conner Noland and a two-out bunt single by Hunter Cardwell in the fifth. He picked off Daggs, Noland was stranded and Cardwell was caught stealing by Hornets catcher Trey Breeding to end the top of the fifth.
Tipton went 3 for 3 with a sacrifice fly in the first game. He singled to start the bottom of the fifth, stole his way to third and scored on a wild pitch.
In the third, he started a three-run uprising with a single, advanced on a passed ball and stole his third base of the contest. Breeding cracked a triple to bring him in. Patterson drew a walk and Jason Hastings beat out a bunt for a hit, plating a run. After a pitching change for Greenwood, Lee walked and Dylan Hurt made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Connor Tatum, who had two hits in the game, singled to start the fourth. On an errant throw, he wound up at third. Tipton followed with his sacrifice fly.
Patterson singled and Lee doubled to get things going in the bottom of the fifth, Hurt singled in courtesy runner Seth Tucker then Lee scored on a passed ball.
Misenheimer singled Hurt to third then Tatum, on a squeeze play, got the RBI and beat the play for a single. That brought up Tipton, who drilled one into the left-center gap for a triple. And when the throw back to the infield got away, he was able to score to complete the rout.
In the second game, Lee scattered four hits over four innings, fanned two and walked one. Tanner Cooper singled to open the game, moved to second on a grounder to Hurt at short but was then thrown out at third when he tried to advance on another bouncer to Hurt.
The Hornets turned a doubleplay to erase a base-runner in the second. Chris Sunde had singled with one out.
In the meantime, the Hornets grabbed a 4-0 lead in the first. Tipton singled, Brandan Warner drilled a double and Breeding produced the first run with a sacrifice fly. Patterson singled in Warner to make it 2-0.
Hastings followed with a shot off the shin of Sunde, the Greenwood pitcher. Sunde was able to complete the inning but came out after that. He hit Lee with a pitch to load the bases for Hurt, who delivered a two-run single.
Greenwood got its lone run of the day in the top of the third. Jax Burgess singled with one out and advanced on a wild pitch. A passed ball allowed him to take third but Lee got Cooper to fly to right for the second out. Jake Herrell drew a walk to put runners at the corners. Burgess scored on a wild pitch. Max Higgins reached on an error but Lee picked him off to end the uprising.
Daggs singled in the top of the fourth but Lee made a nice play to retire Dylan Montgomery on a hot comebacker. Cooper Van Kooten walked but Cardwell grounded to Tatum at second to end the inning with the Hornets still up 4-1.
And they blew the game open in the fourth. Garrett Misenheimer started the inning with a long single to right-center. Tatum drew a walk. Tipton perfectly placed a bunt that Daggs, the third baseman, got to but unleashed a late wild throw. Logan Allen, running for Misenheimer, scored on the play and the Hornets had runners at second and third.
Warner squeezed in Tatum and, after Breeding walked, Patterson found the fence in right-center, clearing the bases with a triple. Hastings’ sacrifice fly made it 10-1.
Shurtleff pitched the top of the fifth and worked around a pair of hits. In the home half, Tatum drew a one-out walk and sprinted home on Tipton’s ringing triple to left-center.