Black Sox bounce back against Express
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
Things didn’t start out too well for center fielder Joey Winiecki and the Bryant Black Sox AAA American Legion team when they hosted Zone 4 rival Little Rock Continental Express on Wednesday, July 11.
Right-hander Ryan Wilson retired the first two Express batters with ease but then Clay Washington hit a sinking liner to center. Winiecki dashed in and took a chance, leaving his feet to try to make a diving catch but the ball eluded him and went to the fence. Washington circled the bases, scoring standing up for an inside-the-park homer.
Inauspicious, particularly for a team that was getting back to play after a disappointing league loss at Benton when they were fresh off a tournament championship in Alton, Ill.
Winiecki had a hand in the Sox tying it in the first. Though it wasn’t one of his best bunts, the speedy lead-off man got a hit when no one covered first base as Continental’s first sacker Jim Manney charged to make a play even though it was bunted to third. Lance Black charged the ball well and fielded it but didn’t look before he threw. With no one at home, Winiecki not only got first but second base.
Jake Jackson did a nice job of giving himself up by hitting the ball to the right side to get Winiecki to third then Aaron Davidson did the same to bring him home with the tying run.
In the second, however, Winiecki came in on a two-out fly to shallow left-center and dropped the ball. Wilson picked him up though by striking out Russell Goss to end the inning.
And Winiecki went on to turn around his fortunes with a three-hit night, scoring two runs and driving home a pair as the Sox rallied for an 8-1 win with Wilson allowing just three other hits in a route-going performance that improved him to 7-0 this season.
The win improved Bryant to 25-5 overall, 5-2 in the league, a game behind defending State champion Pine Bluff in the standings. The Sox were set for rematches against Benton on July 17 and Pine Bluff on July 20, both at home as the regular-season entered its final 10 days.
Wilson struck out seven without a walk, needing only 77 pitches to dispatch the Express.
The Sox took a 2-1 lead in the second when he was hit by a pitch, swiped second and Winiecki slapped a two-out double down the left field line.
Continental starter Mark Webb worked around an error and a walk in the third but couldn’t keep the Sox from extending the lead in the fourth when he issued a lead-off walk to Tyler Sawyer. Trent Daniel, who along with Devin Hurt, added two hits for the Sox, hit a hard grounder to Black behind third base and beat his throw to first for a hit. Winiecki singled to right to drive in Sawyer and, with two down, Hurt came through in the clutch with a two-run single to make it 5-1.
Clint Green relieved for Continental in the fifth and set the Sox down in order for the only time in the game. In the sixth, however, they got to him as well. Daniel singled and, an out later, Jackson’s grounder to short drew a bad throw to second in a force attempt. Alex Kehrees blistered an RBI single to center and Hurt doubled down the left-field line to plate Jackson.
Continental issued an intentional walk to Tyler Pickett, Bryant’s top hitter (.400 coming into the game), then changed pitchers. Jordan Knight greeted Conner Weisdecker with a grounder to Black at third who threw to second for a force. But when the Express were unable to relay to first in time to get the doubleplay, Kehrees scored to make it 8-1.
Wilson allowed a one-out single to Bradley Silfies in the top of the seventh but retired the next two to close out the win.