Hornets overwhelm Falcons in short order to open annual Billy Bock Classic
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
PINE BLUFF — In the first game of the eighth annual Billy Bock Classic at Taylor Field, the Bryant Hornets’ starters each batted once but never took the field.
In fact, before any of the Hornets played defense, 18 of them came to the plate and four of those twice. The North Pulaski Falcons, who struggle to compete at the 5A level, were just overmatched by the defending Class 7A State champs. Bryant scored 15 runs in the first and four more (and counting) in the second when the game was called.
Officially, the final was 20-0 but only three Falcons ever came to bat. Freshman right-hander Wesley Akers retired all three on a grounder to Ozzie Hurt at second, another to Lucas Castleberry at short then a liner to Hurt.
Falcons first-year head coach Jay Darr visited with Bryant coach Kirk Bock after the inning and it was agreed that the game would be stopped before the lead grew to more that 20. So when, with two down, Hurt, the ninth batter of the second inning was hit by a pitch to force in Tyler Green with the 19th run, the game was over.
North Pulaski, which used two pitchers, was able to save some arms for the rest of the tourney, a second-round game on Friday and a final on Saturday. The Falcons were set to take on Pine Bluff Dollarway in the consolation bracket. The Hornets advanced to take on White Hall at the Bulldogs’ field at 5 p.m., on Friday.
The good thing was that the Falcons’ pitchers were throwing strikes most of the time. There were only three walks but there were also three hit batsmen. It was a struggle, however, for the North Pulaski outfield, playing deep because of a strong wind blowing out to straightaway center. Several hits fell in front of them and others were just misjudged.
The Hornets had 18 hits and just two flat-out errors in the 1 2/3 innings. Tyler Green and Daniel Richards each went 3-for-3 off the bench. Castleberry and Marcus Wilson were both 2 for 2.
The game started with a walk to Chris Joiner and a drive into the gap in right-center by Brown that got over the right fielder’s head when he took a bad angle towards the ball. Dylan Cross followed with a long fly to left-center that fell just behind the Falcons’ B.J. Smith. Cross was credited with a sacrifice fly and reached on the error.
Tyler Nelson was hit by a pitch to load the bases then Landon Pickett singled in a run and Jordan Taylor sliced a two-run double to left. Hayden Lessenberry was hit by a pitch to fill the sacks again and Josh Pultro doubled to drive in a pair.
A two-run single by Evan Jobe completed the work of the Bryant starters as all nine batted and all nine reached base. All nine would eventually score.
The carousel continued with the second group of nine. Green doubled, Richards singled in a run then Ashton Green’s base hit drove another in.
The Falcons finally got an out when Hurt’s grounder was back-handed by shortstop Alex Broadwell who threw for a force at second. But the hit parade resumed with an infield hit by Tryce Schalchlin. Castleberry looped a single to right to plate a run then Zach Graddy drew a walk to force one in.
By that point, the Hornets were playing station-to-station anyway. So when Wilson and Hayden Daniel singled, each knocked in a run. Tyler Green’s second hit made it 14-0 and the Falcons finally made a pitching change. Right-hander Josh Gress had thrown 56 pitches and only one batter had been retired. Lefty T.J. Waters came on and was greeted by Richards who pulled a single to left to cap off the scoring in the inning. Waters retired the next two to bring an end to the marathon frame.
In the second, Waters retired Schalchlin but Castleberry singled and Graddy’s fly to left was dropped. Wilson singled to load the bases then Castleberry scored when Daniel bounced into a force.
With two down, Tyler Green and Richards singled in runs. Ashton Green walked then Hurt was hit by a pitch and the game was called.
The Billy Bock Classic also includes Watson Chapel, Pine Bluff High, Marked Tree and Byng High School of Ada, Okla.