By Rob Patrick
PINE BLUFF — One scratch hit, two bunts, a dropped pop and a sacrifice fly produced[more] four runs for the Bryant Hornets in the fifth inning against the Watson Chapel Wildcats Friday. And that was enough for senior right-hander Jordan Taylor who, with relief help from Nate Rutherford, shackled the Wildcats on five hits in a 5-1 win.
Over 5 2/3 innings, Taylor struck out nine, scattered four hits, walks just two and hit a batter. The lone Watson Chapel run was unearned.
Rutherford got the last out of the sixth and worked around an error and a single in the seventh to finish off the victory.
The Hornets had seven hits including three by senior Josh Pultro and two from sophomore Chase Tucker. Ozzie Hurt contributed an RBI single.
Bryant improved to 2-0 going into today’s game at 1 p.m., against the Lake Hamilton Wolves.
Chapel got its lone run in the second inning, taking a 1-0 lead. With one out, Reece Huffty singled up the middle. V.J. Dixon followed with a one-hopper that was misplayed. Jordan Stargill’s base hit drove in courtesy runner Brandon Wade.
But Taylor kept it to that when he got R.J. McGregor to bounce into a force at second then struck out Matt McClain.
Taylor would allow just one more hit after that, a one-out single by Dixon in the fourth. A two-out error put runners at the corners for the Wildcats but Taylor fanned pinch-hitter Jacob Owen to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Chapel starter Wyatt Jones was blanking the Hornets. He got out of a first-inning jam that included singles by Trevor Ezell and Pultro then, in the second, he got around a two-out walk to Hurt.
After a 1-2-3 third, Pultro opened the fourth with his second single. But he was doubled off first when Hayden Lessenberry’s line drive was grabbed by second baseman Josh Dardenne.
Tucker led off the game-turning fifth with a roller to the right side that Chapel first baseman Zach Bradford roamed to his left to get to.
Tucker beat it out for a hit. Up to sacrifice, Hurt got a solid bunt down up the right side. Jones came over to field it but his flip to Dardenne covering first, was high and Hurt reached as he and Dardenne collided. Tucker hustled to third on the play.
With Hayden Daniel at the plate, Hurt left early from first hoping to draw a throw so that Tucker might be able to score. But Chapel didn’t make a play on him, so Hurt eased into second.
Daniel worked the count to 3-1 then bunted, rolling one up the first-base line. Jones got to the ball but his rushed flip to the plate was too late to get Tucker as he tied the game.
With runners at the corners, Bryant lead-off Tyler Nelson lofted a fly to shallow left. Stargill dashed in and got under the ball but failed to make the catch. Hurt scored the go-ahead run on the play.
With one out, Daniel and Nelson worked a double steal that drew an errant throw to third by Huffty, the Chapel catcher. Daniel bounced up out of his slide and sprinted home as Nelson took third with the Hornets leading 3-1.
Taylor made it 4-1 with a drive to right for a sacrifice fly.
“We put the pressure on them and they just didn’t handle it very well,” acknowledged Hornets coach Kirk Bock. “I was very pleased with that. And we had some timely hits. When we needed a hit right there to get on and get it started, we got it.”
They got another one in the sixth after Taylor struck out the side around a hit batsman in the home fifth.
Dylan Cross, who tagged the ball hard in each of his three at-bats without a hit, lined to left to open the frame. Tucker followed with a bloop single to center. He stole second and scored when Hurt shot a base hit past third.
With the 5-1 lead but his pitch-count mounting, Taylor retired the first two in the bottom of the sixth on a strikeout and a comebacker. On a 3-2 pitch, he issued a pass to Stargill and Bock brought in Rutherford. On his first pitch, he got McGregor to bounce to Nelson at short for an inning-ending force.
Chapel reliever Justin Dardenne retired the Hornets in order in the top of the seventh. In the home half, a one-out error allowed the Wildcats’ Landon Colson to reach base. Rutherford responded by striking out Dardenne. A pinch single by Chris McVay put runners at first and second but Rutherford induced a game-ending bouncer to Hurt at second by Bradford.
HORNETS 5, WILDCATS 1
Bryant ab r h bi Watson Chapel ab r h bi
Nelson, ss 4 1 0 0 Colson, cf 4 0 1 0
Ezell, dh 4 0 1 0 Ju.Dardenne, ss-p 2 0 0 0
Taylor, p-3b 3 0 0 1 Jones, p-ss 3 0 0 0
Pultro, lf 3 0 3 0 McVay, ph 1 0 1 0
Lessenberry, c 3 0 0 0 Bradford, 1b 4 0 0 0
Cross, 1b 3 0 0 0 Huffty, c 3 0 1 0
Tucker, rf 3 2 2 0 Wade, cr 0 1 0 0
Hurt, 2b 1 1 1 1 Dixon, 3b 3 0 1 0
Daniel, cf 2 1 0 1 Stargill, lf 2 0 1 1
Richards, 3b 0 0 0 0 McGregor, dh 3 0 0 0
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0 McClain, rf 1 0 0 0
Owen, ph 1 0 0 0
Wade, ph 1 0 0 0
Jo.Dardenne, 2b 0 0 0 0
Totals 26 5 7 3 Totals 28 1 5 1
E—Richards 2, Jones, Huffty, Stargill, Nelson. DP—Bryant 1, Watson Chapel 1. LOB—Bryant 4, Watson Chapel 9. SB—Ju.Dardenne, Hurt, Daniel, Nelson, Tucker. S—Hurt, Daniel. SF—Taylor.
BRYANT 000 041 0 — 5
Watson Chapel 010 000 0 — 1
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Taylor (W, 1-0) 5.2 1 0 4 2 9
Rutherford 1.1 0 0 1 0 1
Jones (L) 6 5 1 7 1 3
Ju.Dardenne 1 0 0 0 0 1
HBP—Ju.Dardenne (by Taylor).