Focused Sox boil Ricemen
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
In Saturday’s game against Fayetteville, the focus of the Bryant Blacksox AAA American Legion team just wasn’t where coaches Craig and Tic Harrison would’ve liked. It was a surprise to them really, considering the debts that Bryant teams owed Fayetteville teams in past games — last-inning losses in the 2002 Legion State Tournament and during the 2003 high school regular season. And considering that the two teams were ranked 1-2 in the state.
Though the Sox came just inches from winning (see related story), the Harrisons had a little extra running session afterwards in hopes of spurring the team to come to the park on Sunday to play fifth-ranked Jonesboro in a little better frame of mind.
Bryant scored eight runs in the first inning then eased to an 8-4 win, making it two wins in three games against Top 10 teams over the weekend. The Sox improved to 29-11 going into Wednesday’s contest against Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet.
To his credit, Jonesboro left-hander Davey Webb endured the eight-run first, which included a vehement dressing down on the mound by his manager, then held the Blacksox hitless the rest of the game, allowing just two baserunners.
For Bryant, Daniel Price was scheduled to start the game, but a rain shower that slightly delayed the game was more of a drenching in some parts of the area and Price — and a number of fans — figured it had been rained out.
After a phone call, Price made it to the field but not until Justin Woods had to make the start on the mound. Woods, who had thrown three innings in Friday’s 5-5 tie at Pine Bluff, pitched a scoreless first then turned it over to Price whose four inning stint earned him the victory. B.J. Wood relieved with no one out in the sixth and finished the game.
Bryant’s big first inning was aided by four Webb walks, one each to the first three batters, Wood, Todd Bryan, and Derek Chambers. A.J. Nixon then hit a foul pop near the Jonesboro dugout. Catcher Brett Hogan made a sparkling, sliding catch on the ball. But Wood noticed that no one was covering home and, after tagging up, beat Hogan to the plate for the first run.
Nixon was credited with a rare sacrifice fly to the catcher.
Scott Peeler then began the hit parade with an RBI single to right. After Jeff Carpenter walked to load the bags, Travis Wood spanked a two-run double to left-center to make it 4-0.
Carpenter scored on a single up the middle by Andrew Norman, then Dustin Easterly blooped an RBI double into shallow right.
Travis Wood scored on his older brother’s bouncer to second then Bryan capped the inning with an RBI double.
Chambers followed and continued to hit into bad luck. After being robbed of hits in his last two at-bats on Saturday against Fayetteville, he was once again deprived, this time by Jonesboro second baseman Revis Kemper to end the inning.
After that, the Sox’ only baserunners came on walks, one to Travis Wood to lead off the third, and one to Norman to open the sixth. Norman eventually reached third base thanks to a sacrifice by Easterly and a balk by Webb. But he was stranded.
Jonesboro broke through with a couple of runs in the fourth. Price struck out the first two in the inning then was a strike away from fanning the side when Brody Heeb dumped a single into shallow right. Matt Byrd was hit by a pitch then Jeff McKnight singled to left. Both runners scored when the ball was misplayed by Travis Wood.
But Price, after issuing a walk, got out of the inning when he got Cory Chastain to fly out to Travis Wood.
Price worked out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth but when he allowed a single to McKnight to start the sixth, B.J. Wood was brought on in relief.
After striking out the first batter he faced, Wood gave up an infield single to Chastain. Third sacker Jeff Carpenter made a nice back-handed stab on the ball behind third but threw wildly to first. The run scored and Chastain rounded to third. He scored from there on a groundout by Kemper.
In the seventh, Wood walked the first two batters but he fanned Heeb and got Byrd to Carpenter who started a game-ending doubleplay.