By Rob Patrick
Though the Bryant Hornets never stopped battling even to the last hard out, they just couldn’t[more] match the offense of the Sheridan Yellowjackets Monday night.
The Jackets banged out 18 hits and took advantage of four Bryant errors to forge a 13-8 win at BHS field.
It was just the fourth loss in 19 games this season for the Hornets who came into the game with seven wins in their last eight games. But Sheridan was just as hot, winning eight of its last night — though one was a forfeit by Little Rock Fair, which dropped baseball for lack of participation this season. The Yellowjackets improved to 12-4 this season.
Both teams were set to play more important games today with Bryant entertaining Cabot while Sheridan hosts Texarkana. The Hornets are a game behind first-place Russellville in the 7A/6A-Central Conference (but points ahead of Conway for the league’s top seed to the 7A State Tournament). Sheridan is tied for the 6A-South Conference lead with Benton, which provided that lone loss in the last 10 games for the Jackets, a 5-0 setback in which all of the Panthers’ runs were unearned.
On Monday, Sheridan scored in all but the fourth inning as Bryant used five different pitchers.
A trio of hurlers limited the Hornets to six hits, though they walked eight and hit five batters along the way and the Jackets had a couple of errors of their own.
When the game ended, Bryant had the bases loaded, a run in and clean-up hitter Dylan Cross making a bid for an extra-base hit only to have left-fielder Justin Glidden rob him with a sprint to the line.
Trevor Ezell had two of the Hornets’ hits including a two-run triple. He singled in a run earlier in the game. Ozzie Hurt had a key double that drove in three runs. In fact, the bottom third of the Bryant order accounted for four of the six hits. (Seven-hole hitter Tyler Green had a hit, two walks and was hit by a pitch once.)
But Sheridan got four hits each from Josh Miller and Jake Smith and three from Glidden including a three-run blast in the fifth that broke open a close game.
Sheridan had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out error, a wild pitch and an RBI single by Miller against Hornets starter Nate Rutherford.
Lefty starter Alec Pender worked around a walk and a hit batsman in the bottom of the inning and his teammates added to the lead in the second. Glidden singled, advanced to second on a balk then, when the Hornets and Rutherford were just a strike away from getting out of the inning unscathed, Landon Huggins drilled an RBI double to center. After a walk to Nick Ware on another 3-2 pitch, the count went to 2-2 on Pender before he singled to make it 3-0.
The Hornets scratched for a run in the bottom of the second and had a chance to get more. Hayden Daniel legged out a triple to open the inning. Green walked and Ezell singled in the run. Hurt sacrificed to get runners to second and third. With two down Hayden Lessenberry walked to load the bags but Pender got Josh Pultro on a comebacker to end the uprising.
Sheridan kept the pressure on with two more in the third off Bryant reliever Tryce Schalchlin. Miller singled, was sacrificed to second by Grady Finley and scored on a double by Smith. Singles by Glidden and Ryan Taylor brought courtesy runner Braden Lunday around to make it 5-1. With two down, Ware walked again but Schalchlin got out of the inning by picking off Glidden at third.
The Hornets pulled within one thanks to Hurt’s clutch two-out hit. Dylan Cross and Jordan Taylor had been hit by pitches to start the inning. Daniel, trying to sacrifice, bunted back to Pender who threw to third to force Cross. Green walked again to load the bases and, after Ezell bounced back to the mound for a force at the plate, Hurt took the count to 1-2 before dumping a bloop down the right-field line for a three-run double. He was able to get to third when the ball was misplayed by Huggins but he was stranded there and Sheridan maintained a one-run edge.
Schalchlin and Pender both had 1-2-3 innings in the fourth. In the fifth, however, Finley looped a single to center and Smith got a bunt to hug the third-base line for a hit. Both moved up on a wild pitch before Glidden tied into a 2-2 delivery, sending it over the fence in front of the scoreboard in left-center.
Wesley Akers became the third Bryant pitcher and, after Jordan Taylor robbed Ryan Taylor of a hit with a leaping grab at third, Huggins walked and took second on a wild pitch. He held there when Ware bounced out to third. But when Pender singled to center, Huggins scored to make it 9-4.
The Hornets responded by scratching out three runs in the bottom of the inning to get back to within 9-7. Jordan Taylor reached on an error and, an out later, Green was hit by a pitch. Both raced home when Ezell plugged the gap in left-center for a triple.
With two down, Tyler Nelson drew a walk and, when the count got to 2-2 on Lessenberry, he drew a pickoff throw from Pender and stayed in the rundown just barely long enough for Ezell to sprint home.
Sheridan, however, kept adding on. Despite a spectacular stop by Ezell behind second, Miller beat out a hit to start the sixth. Finley then reached when his cue shot to Ezell’s right eluded the shortstop.
Jordan Taylor was called on to relieve Akers at that point but he was greeted by Smith, who chopped one over the head of the drawn-in Akers at third to drive in Miller. Taylor retired the next two before Huggins slapped a single through the left side to bring in Finley.
Bryant head coach Kirk Bock called for an appeal, believing that Finley had missed third on his way home but when the Hornets made the official appeal, Finley was ruled safe, making it 11-7.
Ryan Taylor relieved Pender in the bottom of the inning and the right-hander worked around a walk to Josh Pultro and a two-out single by Jordan Taylor to keep it a four-run game.
Nelson took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and hit Pender with a pitch. Jake Crenshaw then bunted to sacrifice and when a throw to second pulled Hurt off the bag, both had reached safely. An infield hit by Miller loaded the bags for Finley. Though Miller was picked off first, Finley pulled a single into left to drive in two.
Smith followed with a double and Glidden was walked intentionally to load the bags. Nelson picked off Finley at third then got Ryan Taylor to bounce out to Hurt at second to send it to the bottom of the seventh.
Green singled to open the final frame. An out later, pinch-hitter Zach Graddy walked and a wild pitch moved both base-runners up. Nelson drew a walk then Lessenberry was hit by a pitch to force in a run, as well as a pitching change.
Miller fanned Pultro then, with the help of Glidden in left, ended it.
SHERIDAN 13, BRYANT 8
Yellowjackets ab r h bi Hornets ab r h bi
Ware, ss 3 0 0 0 Nelson, lf-p 3 0 0 0
Pender, p-cf 4 1 2 2 Lessenberry, c 2 0 0 1
Crenshaw, 2b 4 2 0 1 Tucker, cr 0 0 0 0
Miller, 3b-p 5 2 4 0 Thompson, cr 0 0 0 0
Finley, 1b 4 2 2 2 Pultro, 1b 4 0 0 0
Smith, c 5 0 4 2 Cross, dh 3 0 0 0
Lunday, cr 0 2 0 0 J.Taylor, 3b-p 3 1 1 0
Glidden, cf-lf 4 2 3 3 Tucker, cr 0 0 0 0
R.Taylor, dh-p 5 0 1 1 Daniel, rf 4 2 1 0
Raney, 3b 0 0 0 0 Green, cf 1 3 1 0
Huggins, rf 3 2 2 2 Ezell, ss 4 2 2 3
Davis, lf 0 0 0 0 Hurt, 2b 2 0 1 3
Graddy, ph 0 0 0 0
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0
Schalchlin, p 0 0 0 0
Akers, p-3b 0 0 0 0
Jones, lf 0 0 0 0
Totals 37 13 18 13 Totals 26 8 6 6
E—J.Taylor, Huggins, Green, Crenshaw, Ezell, Lessenberry. LOB—Sheridan 11, Bryant 11. 2B—Huggins, Smith 2, Hurt. 3B—Daniel, Ezell. HR—Glidden. SB—Tucker. S—Hurt, Finley, Crenshaw.
Sheridan 122 042 2 — 13
BRYANT 013 030 1 — 8
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Pender (W) 5 7 5 4 5 4
R.Taylor 1.1 1 1 2 3 1
Miller (S) 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
Rutherford (L) 2 3 2 4 1 2
Schalchlin 2 5 5 7 1 1
Akers 1 3 2 3 1 1
J.Taylor 1 0 0 2 0 1
Nelson 1 2 1 3 1 0
Schalchlin pitched to three batters in the fifth.
Akers pitched to two batters in the sixth.
Balk—Rutherford. HBP—Cross 2, J.Taylor, Green (by Pender), Lessenberry (by R.Taylor), Pender (by Nelson). WP—Pender, Rutherford, Schalchlin, Akers 2, R.Taylor.