Photos courtesy of Samantha Breeding
TAMPA, Fla. — The Bryant Hornets may now have the longest winning streak among high school baseball teams in the country at 42 in row.
According to an article written by Kevin Askeland of maxpreps.com (here), the Hornets entered the season tied for the third longest streak at 28 (with Barbe High School of Lake Charles, La., and Puyallup High School of Washington) behind Lake County Lutheran, Wis., at 32 and Douglass, Texas, at 29.
The Wisconsin team has yet to start its 2015 season, while Douglass has won its first 10 games to reach 39. Barbe won its first five games this season before the streak ended at 33. Puyallup, Wash., won its first two this season before its streak ended at 30.
The next closest was St. Mary’s of Annapolis, Md., at 26. The Saints have started their season 4-0.
Meanwhile, the Hornets improved to 14-0 on the season to extend their spree to 42 in a row on Thursday, as senior right-hander Blaine Knight ran his scoreless innings skein to 21, firing a two-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over the Faith Baptist Christian Academy Eagles of Brandon, Fla.
The Hornets varsity won three times on Thursday and the junior varsity added a win as well. Along with the 3-0 victory over the highly-regarded Eagles, the Hornets whipped the Eastview Lightning of Apple Valley, Minn., with a run in the bottom of the seventh, 4-3. In between, they blasted Minnehaha, Minn., 15-1, at the same time that the JV was defeating the Rosemount, Minn., Irish, 9-6.
The JV will play once more on Friday morning against the Penn Charter Quakers JV from Philadelphia before the Hornets begin their return home. They return to action on Tuesday, March 31, with a 7A/6A-Central Conference game against the Catholic Rockets at Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock.
The last loss for Bryant was 4-1 on March 18, 2014, at Benton.
Bryant 3, Faith Baptist (Fla.) Eagles 0
Knight allowed a scratch hit on a “swinging bunt” in the third inning then a lined single to right in the fifth. Otherwise, he fanned 13 and hit a batter without a walk.
“That was probably the best I’ve ever seen Blaine throw,” stated Hornets coach Kirk Bock. “I mean, he was really, really, really good. He pitched. He just stinkin’ pitched. It was really windy. He was probably throwing 85, 86 (miles per hour). He probably flashed 89 a couple of times. (The Eagles) didn’t like hitting those benders. He did good.
“Everybody (Faith Baptist) has is going off to Division I schools or a JUCO,” he noted. “They were very, very impressive to look at. They can play. They turned a doubleplay on us that — there’s not a big league team that could turn it any better than those kids. And really good kids; all Latin American, and really fun to watch. They really love playing the game. I think they came into our game something like 24-1 this year.”
The Hornets had five hits and four of those were in a three-run fourth.
Evan Lee started the uprising with a single. He stole second and sprinted home on a double by Blake Patterson. After Brandan Warner sacrificed Patterson to third, he scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
With two out, Jason Hastings singled and raced to third on a single by Trey Breeding. When Breeding stole second, a wild throw from the catcher allowed Hastings to come home with the third tally.
Bryant 15, Minnehaha, Minn., Redhawks 1
Sophomore lefty Beaux Bonvillain pitched four shutout innings before giving up an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to the Redhawks, whom the Hornets had blanked 4-0 on Monday. Bonvillain allowed four hits without a walk. He hit one and fanned three in five innings.
Bryant took control with a six-run first then blew the game up with seven in the top of the fifth.
The opening salvo commenced with Drew Tipton reaching base on the first of three errors committed by Minnehaha. Connor Tatum and Lee drew walks to load the bases for Patterson who ripped a two-run single. Warner doubled in a run and, with one out, Alex Shurtleff drew a walk. Jordan Gentry picked up an RBI when he bounced into a force at second.
A walk to Jake East kept the inning going for Tipton to come up again. He cracked an RBI single then so did Tatum to cap the inning.
The Hornets made it 7-0 in the third when Gentry walked and stole a base. He took third on a bouncer to the right side by East. Tipton followed with a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Warner walked and stole second. He took third on Shurtleff’s tap to first and, after Gentry walked, a wild pitch allowed the run to score.
The fifth-inning blitz was once again started by Tipton who doubled. Tatum walked then they worked a double steal. For Tipton, it was his 14th stolen base in as many games this season.
A walk to Lee packed the sacks. Patterson drew an RBI pass and, with one out, Hastings smacked a two-run single. With two away, Gentry singled in a run to make it 11-0.
An error on East’s grounder to second set the stage for Tipton’s two-run single. And when Tatum’s bouncer to second was booted, the final run came in.
Bryant 4, Eastview Lightning of Apple Valley, Minn.
Warner’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh snapped a 3-3 tie in the Hornets’ first game of the day. Lee had walked to open the innings and, courtesy runner Logan Allen, sprinted to third on a base hit by Patterson to set the stage for Warner.
Dylan Hurt pitched into the top of the seventh, allowing three runs, one earned, on six hits with two walks, a hit batsman and two strikeouts. A triple and an error produced the tying run. With one out, Hurt issued a walk and Austin Kelly came on to relieve. He struck out the first man he faced then got the final out on a bouncer to short that resulted in a force at second.
Bryant had fallen behind in the top of the second but tied it in the bottom of the third when Tipton tattooed a triple to left then scored on Tatum’s grounder to short.
The Hornets took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Hurt singled, took second on a balk and scored when Tipton stroked a double. Tatum’s groundout allowed Tipton to take third and he scored easily from there on a two-bagger by Lee.
Eastview clipped a run off the lead in the top of the sixth then tied it in the seventh to set up Bryant’s walk-off.