By Rob Patrick
RUSSELLVILLE — When Bryant’s Drew Tipton broke from second base, it might very well have[more] been for naught. After all, teammate Harrison Dale had just fouled off a pair of 0-2 deliveries from Van Buren reliever Hunter Ryan. If the next pitch had been a strike or if it had been close enough for Dale to take a hack at it, the inning might’ve been over. Dale might’ve kept the inning alive with another foul. Or he might’ve stroked a base hit to win the game.
But it was a ball and, with Tipton’s great break, he had third stolen easily. Then he and Hornets got a gift. The throw from the Van Buren catcher skipped past the third baseman and down the left-field line. Tipton scrambled to his feet and hustled home with the game-winning run in a 4-3 Bryant victory at Jerry Moore Field on the campus of Arkansas Tech University.
The Hornets found a way to win, making the most of just two hits in the game. Freshman right-hander Zach Jackson, who turned in four innings of one-hit shutout relief of starter Blaine Knight, picked up his first varsity win as the Hornets improved to 5-4 on the season, going into today’s South Conference outing at Pine Bluff.
Dale and senior Hayden Lessenberry had the lone hits, both singles in a two-run third after Van Buren’s Pointers had tallied single runs in each of the first three frames.
Trevor Ezell opened the home third by taking one for the team. On the very next pitch, Pointers’ starter Jacob Bauman plunked Jason Hastings as well. That brought up Lessenberry who ripped one to the base of the left-field fence. But Ezell held up at second, hoping to tag up if Van Buren’s left fielder Colton Tucker caught up with the ball in time to make the catch. As a result, it wound up being a single to load the bases.
Marcus Wilson followed with a grounder to third. The Pointers’ Levi Froud threw home for the force on Ezell. But, moments later, Dale hit one in the hole at short for an RBI single.
With the bases loaded and two out, Trey Breeding waited out a walk, forcing in a second run before Korey Thompson flew out to Tucker in left.
Jackson relieved in the fourth and, with the help of a splendid play at short by Ezell, worked a 1-2-3 frame, using just five pitches.
Ezell then drew a one-out walk to start the fourth. He stole his way to third with Hastings at the plate. On a 2-1 count, Hastings got a squeeze bunt down toward first. Ezell scored as Ryan, playing first, booted the ball allowing Hastings to reach.
When Lessenberry walked to put runners at first and second, Ryan was brought to the mound where he got out of the inning with the score still tied.
Jackson worked around an infield hit with two down in the top of the fifth, along with his own errant pickoff throw that allowed the runner to go all the way to first. But the freshman stayed calm and forced the Pointers to strand the runner when he got Spencer Rapin to bounce out to Thompson at second.
With Ryan setting down the Hornets at the plate, Jackson continued to keep the Pointers off the board despite a pair of two-out errors in the top of the sixth.
In the seventh, it took just nine pitches for Jackson and the Hornets' defense to retire the Pointers. Dale, at third, and Hastings, at first, opened the inning with sparkling defense to set down pinch-hitter Jake Freeman.
Tipton came on as a pitch-hitter to start the bottom of the seventh and worked a walk. Lessenberry sacrificed him to second. After Wilson popped to first, Dale came to the plate.
Van Buren had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Bauman was hit by a pitch but, on a scrambling effort by Thompson, was forced out on a grounder to Tucker. A walk to Jake Bogner put two on. Rapin grounded into a force at second and beat the relay to first, avoiding the inning-ending doubleplay. So Ryan was able to bat and he blooped a single just beyond Ezell’s reach in shallow left-center to drive in the first run.
The Hornets threatened in the bottom of the inning when Lessenberry walked and Wilson reached on an error but Bauman wriggled off the hook by getting Dale to fly out to right.
In the second, Quentin Ray was struck by a Knight delivery to lead off. Zed Steinmetz sacrificed then Knight fanned Bradley Eversole. Bauman, however, slapped a single to right to drive in the run, making it 2-0.
To start the bottom of the inning, Hayden Daniel reached on an errant throw from third and was awarded second when it was ruled Ryan at interfered with his chance to get to the first-base bag. He advanced to third on Breeding’s groundout but was stranded.
Bogner led off the third with a single to left but Breeding threw him out trying to steal. Thompson took the throw at second and held on as Bogner, on a late slide, collided with him.
With two out, however, Ryan pulled one down the right-field line for a solo homer to make it 3-0.
BRYANT 4, VAN BUREN 3
Pointers ab r h bi Hornets ab r h bi
Bauman, p-cf 3 0 1 1 Ezell, ss 2 1 0 0
Tucker, lf 4 1 0 0 Hastings, 1b 1 1 0 1
Bogner, rf 2 0 2 0 Tipton, ph 0 1 0 0
Rapin, dh 3 0 0 0 Lessenberry, dh 1 1 1 0
Ryan, 1b-p 3 1 2 2 Wilson, lf 4 0 0 0
Froud, 3b 3 0 0 0 Dale, 3b 3 0 1 1
Ray, 2b 2 1 0 0 Daniel, rf 3 0 0 0
Steinmetz, ss 2 0 0 0 Breeding, c 2 0 0 1
Eversole, c 2 0 0 0 Thompson, 2b 3 0 0 0
Freeman, ph 1 0 0 0 Green, cf 3 0 0 0
Hogan, cf-1b 0 0 0 0 Knight, p 0 0 0 0
Jackson, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 25 3 5 3 Totals 22 4 2 3
Van Buren 111 000 0 — 3
BRYANT 002 100 1 — 4
Two out when winning run scored.
E—Steinmetz, Froud, Ryan, Jackson 2, Dale, Eversole. LOB—Van Buren 5, Bryant 7. HR—Ryan. SB—Tucker, Bauman, Ezell 2, Tipton. S—Steinmetz, Hastings, Lessenberry.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Bauman 3 3 2 2 4 0
Ryan (L) 3.2 1 0 0 1 1
Knight 3 3 3 4 0 2
Jackson (W) 4 0 0 1 0 2
HBP—Bauman, Ray (by Knight), Ezell, Hastings (by Bauman).