By Rob Patrick
Photos by Rick Nation
Marcus Wilson and Ty Harris each had three hits and the Bryant Hornets scored in five of their six[more] at-bats as they notched a 7-2 win the 7A/6A-South Conference action against the Sheridan Yellowjackets Thursday night.
It was the third win in four conference games so far going into Tuesday’s trip to Texarkana. The Hornets are 15-5 overall.
Nate Rutherford picked up the win with six innings of work on the mound. He surrendered both runs, only one earned while allowing five hits and striking out one. Hayden Daniel relieved in the seventh and was an out away from ending the game when a hit batsman and a single loaded the bases. Lefty Jason Hastings came on and got the save by inducing a comebacker to the mound.
“The big thing right there was that we were able to carry five runs, which looked a little shaky right there at the end,” noted Hornets coach Kirk Bock. “And that was big because it’s going to be a battle every week. When you win, you’ve got to carry five for tiebreakers.”
Though playing in the South, Bryant will be seeded with the teams in the West for the Class 7A State Tournament. Since the Hornets don’t play any West teams in league action, their seeding among those teams will be determined by a point system and the most a team can be credited with to that end is five runs.
“I think it’s going to be hairy at the end,” Bock stated. “I have no idea who’s going to be in the clump, but we dang sure want to be in it.”
Sheridan took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Tadd Daggett was hit by a pitch with one out then Hunter Strong reached on an error. Rutherford picked Strong off of first as Harris, the first sacker, snuck in behind Strong.
Wyatt Daggett, Sheridan’s starter on the mound, drew a walk but then Rutherford was within a strike of ending the inning when Evan Thompson went back up the middle for an RBI single.
The inning concluded when Bryant catcher Trey Breeding gunned down courtesy runner Brady Bibb when he tried to steal third.
In the bottom of the frame, Trevor Ezell, who was on base three times and stole three bags, was hit by a pitch with one out. An errant pickoff throw allowed him to sprint to third and, on the next pitch, Hayden Lessenberry got him on with a squeeze bunt.
Rutherford worked a 1-2-3 second and the Hornets took the lead in the home half when Harris opened the frame with a shot to the base of the wall in right-center for a triple. Brandan Warner followed with a sharp liner that was speared by Sheridan’s Tyler Raney at short but when Raney tried to quickly throw to third to double up Harris, his throw was wide of the mark and Harris scored.
“I thought we swung it well,” Bock said. “I thought Lessenberry did a good job executing the offense. Ty’s triple — and his first two were two-strike hits — he played extremely well and came through offensively for us. That’s what we need.
“We’ve had a better approach at the plate the last week or two,” he stated. “Obviously, we’ve got to get better but I think it’s starting to click for them a little bit.”
Chase Davis singled with one out in the top of the third for the Yellowjackets but the Hornets turned a doubleplay on Tadd Daggett’s bouncer to Ezell to end the inning.
A stellar defensive play by Lathan Wylie at third and, on the throw to first, Ryan Taylor robbed Tyler Green of a lead-off hit in the third. The game went to the fourth, still 2-1.
But after Rutherford retired the side in order on just nine pitches in the top half, the Hornets tacked on a pair of runs. Wilson opened the inning with a shot that literally ricocheted off of the Sheridan hurler. Wilson stole second and took third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, he stayed at third when Daniel bounced to short but, on an 0-2 pitch, Harris shot a single up the middle to make it 3-1.
Warner followed with a grounder to third. Again, Wylie made a fine play but rushed his throw to second. It was off target and all hands were safe. Breeding drew a walk then Korey Thompson smacked a long fly to left for a sacrifice fly.
The Jackets put together a rally in the fifth but Rutherford limited the damage. Raney singled, Taylor walked and Wylie beat out a bunt single. The run scored on an errant pickoff throw to first. But Rutherford came back with a strikeout. Davis grounded to Warner at third for a force at the plate then Tadd Daggett flew out to Wilson in left to keep it 4-2.
“Nate didn’t have his best stuff,” Bock said. “But he battled and won and that’s what we need. That’s a sign of a good pitcher.”
Bryant responded by padding the lead with two in the bottom of the fifth. Ezell was hit by a pitch and stole his way to third. Lessenberry once again got the bunt down that scored the run.
Wilson beat out a bunt hit then, on another errant pickoff, wound up at third. He scored from there on a wild pitch just before Harris slapped his third hit through the left side. Warner singled to center but Daggett got out of the jam there with a strikeout.
In the home sixth, Thompson lined a single to left, Green sacrificed pinch-runner Chase Tucker to second then Ezell cracked a single to left. And when the ball was misplayed in the outfield, Tucker came home with the final run.
Daniel retired Taylor on a grounder to short to start the top of the seventh but then Wylie cracked a double to left-center. Reese Lisenbey fanned before Davis was hit by a pitch and Tadd Daggett went the other way for a base hit that loaded the bases.
Hastings relieved and worked the count to 1-2 before getting Strong on the comebacker to end the game.
BRYANT 7, SHERIDAN 2
Yellowjackets ab r h bi Hornets ab r h bi
Davis, lf 3 0 1 0 Green, cf 3 0 0 0
T.Daggett, c 3 1 1 0 Ezell, ss 2 2 1 0
Strong, cf 4 0 0 0 Lessenberry, dh 2 0 0 2
W.Daggett, p 2 0 1 0 Wilson, lf 4 2 3 0
Bibb, cr 0 0 0 0 Daniel, rf-p 3 0 0 0
E.Thompson,dh 3 0 1 1 Harris, 1b 3 2 3 1
Raney, ss 3 1 1 0 Warner, 3b 3 0 1 0
Taylor, 1b 2 0 0 0 Breeding, c 2 0 0 0
Wylie, 3b 3 0 2 0 Caldwell, cr 0 0 0 0
Lisenbey, 2b 3 0 0 0 K.Thompson,2b 2 0 1 1
Williams, rf 0 0 0 0 Tucker, pr 0 1 0 0
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0
Caldwell, rf 0 0 0 0
Hastings, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 26 2 7 1 Totals 24 7 9 4
Sheridan 100 010 0 — 2
BRYANT 110 221 x — 7
E—Rutherford 2, W.Daggett 2, Raney, Wylie, Davis. DP—Bryant 1. LOB—Sheridan 7, Bryant 6. 2B—Wylie. 3B—Harris. SB—Ezell 3, Wilson. S—Lessenberry 2, Green. SF—K.Thompson.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
W.Daggett (L) 6 6 1 8 1 4
Rutherford (2) 6 2 1 5 2 1
Daniel 0.2 0 0 2 1 1
Hastings (S) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0
HBP—T.Daggett (by Rutherford), Ezell 2 (by W.Daggett), Davis (by Daniel). WP—W.Daggett 2.