Hornets’ rally comes up short resulting in first loss

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After falling behind 5-1 over the first three innings, the Bryant Hornets battled back against the Maple Grove, Minn., Crimson only to come up a run short. The 7-6 setback was the first in five games at the Tampa Bay Spring Training Classic at Walter Fuller baseball complex.

The Hornets were set to play Maple Grove against his afternoon.

It was also Bryant’s first loss of the season after an 8-0 start.

The Crimson took advantage of an error and two walks to grab a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Hornets’ starter Austin Kelly, who was pitching in a varsity game for the first time this season.

The Hornets’ Logan Allen and Evan Lee were awarded walks in the bottom of the first but Maple Grove escaped without giving up a run.

In the top of the second, a pair of walks and an error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases. A wild pitch made it 2-0 and, after a strikeout, a walk filled the sacks again. A run scored on another wild pitch and Ty Medford was called upon to relieve for the Hornets.

He was greeted by an RBI single that made it 4-0. Medford kept it at that, however, by inducing a groundout to Jake East at short.

The Hornets got on the board in the home second. Joey Cates reached second on an errant throw. East’s grounder to third was booted putting runners at the corners. With one out, East stole second and Aaron Orender drew a free pass. Moments later, East was picked off second but stayed in the rundown long enough for Cates to race home to make it 4-1.

But a pair of doubles by Maple Grove produced an answering tally in the top of the third.

Allen singled and Dylan Hurt was struck by a pitch to open the Bryant third but the Maple Grove pitcher struck out the side to protect the 5-1 lead.

Medford eased through a 1-2-3 fourth, finishing with a strikeout and the Hornets gained some momentum that carried into a three-run home half of the frame. Walks to East and Seth Tucker opened the inning then Jordan Gentry, bunting to move them over, beat out a single to load the bags for Orender. His sacrifice fly made it 5-2 then Allen’s squeeze bunt added another tally. Hurt then singled in Gentry to make it 5-4.

The Minnesota team loaded the bases in the top of the fifth on an error, an infield hit and a solid single up the middle. Boston Heil relieved for the Hornets. On his second pitch, a liner was speared by East, who doubled off the runner at second. A grounder to Garrett Misenheimer at third followed and it remained 5-4 going into the home fifth.

Though East reached on a one-out error in Bryant’s turn, he was stranded.

Two infield singles around a bunt hit produced a run in the top of the sixth for the Crimson. An error made it 7-4.

Misenheimer grabbed a line drive and doubled off the runner at first to turn the momentum around. A grounder to Tucker at second ended the inning.

Bryant continued to struggle at the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Hurt drew a two-out walk but a pair of strikeouts in the inning kept it 7-4.

Despite another Hornets error and an infield hit, Maple Grove was unable to add to the lead in the top of the seventh and the Hornets’ last-chance rally commenced with a solid single to right by Misenheimer.

Cates fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before beating out an infield hit then East drew a walk to load the bases. Tucker grounded into a force at second to get Misenheimer home then Gentry shot a single to left to make it 7-6.

With still one out, Orender’s grounder to short was kicked and the bags were full again. But a force at the plate dulled the momentum and another grounder that resulted in a force at second ended the game.

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