By Rob Patrick
Dylan Cross had a week’s worth of stats in one game Friday, going 3 for 3 with six runs batted[more] in as the Bryant Hornets piled up a 10-2 win over the Pine Bluff Zebras in the opening game of the annual Billy Bock Classic at Taylor Field.
Josh Pultro had three hits while Jordan Taylor and Tyler Nelson added two each for the Hornets who improved to 4-0 on the season going into a second game later in the evening against Watson Chapel in the Classic.
Nate Rutherford earned his first varsity victory on the mound with four shutout innings, allowing three hits and a hit batsman while striking out five. Tryce Schalchlin picked up a three-inning save, surrendering a pair of doubles that drove in the Pine Bluff runs after an error had extended the sixth inning.
By then the Hornets had built a 10-0 lead.
It was 5-0 after the opening at-bat. Nelson, who was hit by pitches twice, started the game that way. Trevor Ezell bounced into a force at second but the inning continued when Taylor was struck by a delivery from Zebra lefty Aaron McDonald.
Pultro followed with a sliced liner to right that avoided the diving attempt at a catch by Pine Bluff right fielder Paul DeWalt. Ezell, who held at second in hopes of tagging if the catch was made, was held at third but Pultro, expecting to get a double out of the hit, rounded first and was tagged out trying to get back when he saw Taylor holding at second.
A walk to Lessenberry loaded the bases for Cross, who slapped a two-run single to right. With Tyler Green, in to run for Lessenberry, at third, Cross left first in hopes of getting in a rundown but Pine Bluff wouldn’t bite and Cross took second. That left first open for Chase Tucker who walked to load the bags again for Hayden Daniel. His looping single to left made it 3-0 and a wild pitch allowed Cross to score as Ozzie Hurt drew a free pass.
With the bags full again, Nelson was hit by a pitch to force in the fifth run.
Though he got out of the inning by fanning Ezell, it was a rough start to a long day for McDonald who wound up going the distance and throwing a whopping 146 pitches.
Rutherford worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning and his teammates got him two more runs in the second. Taylor lined his first single to left and Pultro cracked a liner to center for a hit. They advanced on a double steal and, with one down, Cross came through again with a single to right for two more ribbies.
Rutherford pitched around a hit batter with one out in the bottom of the second, recording his second strikeout. In the third, DeWalt made a bid for a hit with a bunt but Lessenberry, the Hornets’ catcher made a nice play to throw him out. On the next pitch, though Jalen Dabner shot one inside the third-base bag for a double.
Again, however, Rutherford responded with a strikeout to end the inning.
The Hornets were retired in order for the only time in the game in the top of the third but, in the fourth Taylor and Pultro socked singles to lead off again. Lessenberry sacrificed them to second and third then, with Cross at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Taylor to score. Cross then delivered Pultro with a sacrifice fly to make it 9-0.
In the home fourth, Ryan Green and Larry Williams each singled for the Zebras. Karl DeWalt sacrificed and drew a low throw to first to load the bases with nobody out. But Rutherford picked off pinch runner Tyler Smith at third, got Brandon Starks to pop out then fanned Keifer Beckford to preserve the shutout.
McDonald worked around a two-out double by Nelson in the fifth as the Zebras avoided the run-rule loss. Schalchlin relieved in the bottom of the inning and pitched around a two-out walk to send it to the sixth.
Bryant got the 10th run on a walk to Lessenberry with two down in the top of the sixth. Green scored all the way from first when Cross’ drive to right turned the outfielder around and hit the base of the wall for a double.
Schalchlin retired the first two in the bottom of the inning and appeared to have it closed out but an error allowed Karl DeWalt to reach. Doubles by Starks and Beckford got the Z’s on the board before Schalchlin fanned McDonald to end the rally.
After McDonald got through the seventh around a two-out single by Nelson, Schalchlin retired the first two in the home half before running into some control issues. He walked Adam Graham and Green but, after a visit from head coach Kirk Bock, ended it when LaDarius Washington rolled out to Hurt at second.
HORNETS 10, ZEBRAS 2
Bryant ab r h bi Pine Bluff ab r h bi
Nelson, ss 3 0 2 1 Dabner, cf 3 0 1 0
Ezell, dh 5 1 0 0 Graham, ss 3 0 0 0
Taylor, 3b 3 3 2 0 Green, 1b 3 0 1 0
Pultro, lf 4 2 3 0 Smith, pr 0 0 0 0
Lessenberry, c 1 0 0 0 Williams, 3b 2 0 1 0
Green, cr 0 2 0 0 Washington, 3b 2 0 0 0
Cross, 1b 3 1 3 6 K.DeWalt, lf 1 1 0 0
Caldwell, pr 0 0 0 0 Starks, c 3 0 1 1
Tucker, rf 3 1 0 0 Bolten, cr 0 1 0 0
Daniel, cf 4 0 1 1 Beckford, 2b 3 0 1 1
Hurt, 2b 3 0 0 0 McDonald, p 3 0 0 0
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0 P.DeWalt, rf 3 0 0 0
Schalchlin, p 0 0 0 0
Total 29 10 11 8 Total 26 2 5 2
E—Lessenberry, Nelson. LOB—Bryant 7, Pine Bluff 8. 2B—Dabner, Nelson, Cross, Starks, Beckford. S—Lessenberry, K.DeWalt. SF—Cross. SB—Cross, K.DeWalt, Taylor, Pultro, Dabner.
BRYANT 520 201 0 — 10
Pine Bluff 000 002 0 — 2
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Rutherford (1-0) 4 0 0 3 0 5
Schalchlin (S,1) 3 2 0 2 3 1
McDonald (L) 7 10 10 11 4 4
Balk—McDonald. HBP—Nelson 2, Taylor (by McDonald), K.DeWalt (by Rutherford). WP—McDonald 2.