The Bryant Hornets were unusually shaky on defense early in Friday’s first-round game of the Robinson Invitational Tournament held at Bryant High School Field.
Two errors on either side of a single by Dawson Hebert of the DeRidder, La., Dragons had the bases loaded with no one out in the top of the first.
But right-hander Turner Seelinger took his frustrations out of the Dragon’s hitters by striking out the side, leaving the bases loaded.
In the bottom of the first, the first three Hornets’ batters reached base when Ryan Riggs walked, Noah Davis blooped a single to right and Austin Ledbetter shot a single to left to make it 1-0.
Then, Hebert, DeRidder’s starter on the mound, struck out the side.
Riggs wound up in the middle of all three of Bryant’s scoring innings and, after giving up an unearned run in the top of the second, Seelinger then Gideon Motes in relief, shackled the Dragons as the Hornets went on to a 6-2 win to improve to 12-1 on the season, going into an evening contest against Lake Hamilton.
DeRidder’s run in the top of the second resulted from a lead-off walk to Riley Burge, a sacrifice bunt from Layne LaCaze, a two-out error that allowed Cooper Williams to reach base (as Burge took third) then a balk by Seelinger as Williams left first early, trying to draw a throw while Burge scored.
And that worked.
But, in the bottom of the inning, Garret Wilson led off with a shot to the gap in left-center. He legged out a triple and, with one out, Jordan Knox was hit by a pitch. (It was the eighth time in the nine games, Knox has batted in, that he’d been plunked.
With runners at first and second, the duo worked a double steal and Wilson snapped the 1-1 tie. Riggs singled up the middle to drive in Knox, giving the Hornets a 3-1 lead going into the third inning.
Seelinger, given a little more solid support, set down the Dragons in order then Hebert pitched around two-out walks to Wilson and Blaine Sears in the bottom of the third.
Limited to a pitch count, Seelinger gave way to Motes in the top of the fourth. The lefty set down the side in the top of the fourth and Bryant’s offense went back to work.
Riggs opened the inning with a double off LaCaze, the second Dragon’s pitcher, and, after Davis was struck by a 1-2 pitch, Ledbetter fouled out to first. Riggs tagged to go to third and drew an accurate throw. But he beat the tag initially only to slide past the bag as third baseman Alex Brannan, after a late tag attempt, reeled to tag Riggs out, expecting him to try to get back to the bag. But the heady Riggs set off towards home instead.
Brannan chased Riggs down the line toward the plate, but he waited too long to make a throw to his catcher Jack Granger. Riggs slid in safely to make it 4-1.
Davis, meanwhile, had tagged and raced to third on the play.
With one out, Conner Martin walked then J.T. Parker beat out a bunt single on a squeeze attempt, getting Davis home.
Seelinger put the capper on the inning with a single up the middle to chase in Martin. It was 6-1.
In the fifth, a fourth Bryant error allowed D.J. Kendall to reach base. Williams sacrificed him to second but, after Hebert walked, Ashton Broussard hit a grounder up the middle that Davis snagged, flipping to Parker at second to start and inning-ending doubleplay.
In the sixth, Motes worked around a two-out walk to Picou.
LaCaze singled to lead off the seventh. It was the first hit Motes had given up. Kendall walked then Williams beat out a bunt single to load the bases.
Hebert grounded up the middle. Davis, the shortstop ranged over to make the play, step on second and fire to first for a doubleplay as LaCaze scored to make it 6-2.
It ended there when Motes induced a grounder to Seelinger at third. Seelinger threw out Broussard to end the game.