AAA Sox split at Sheridan, will be District’s 2nd seed
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
SHERIDAN — Going into the doubleheader that would close out their Zone 4 schedule, the Bryant Black Sox still had an outside chance at a share of first place. They also were in a position to surrender second and go into the Zone 4 District Tournament in Sheridan starting Thursday, July 26, as the No. 3 seed.
Neither will happen, however.
The Black Sox dropped the first game to Sheridan 6-5 to end speculation about the former and they won the second game 5-2 to dispel concerns about the latter.
The twinbill was also notable for the return of Matt Brown, Bryant’s top run producer, after he had suffered a broken jaw in a game at Jonesboro on July 5. Brown celebrated his return with a solo homer to help fuel a comeback in the first game. It extended his hitting streak to 11 games — a streak that ended when he went 0-for-4 in the nightcap.
Brown wore a football mask on his batting helmet. He started the first game as the designated hitter then came in as a late replacement in right field. He told manager Craig Harrison he wanted to play shortstop — his regular position before the injury — in the second game and was allowed to do so with no problem.
The results left the Sox 32-12 overall this season, 10-4 in zone play, counting a disputed loss to Arkansas Trailer of Little Rock.
Ironically, Bryant, as the second seed, will play Trailer, the seventh seed, in the first round of the District Tournament.
The Sox will close out the regular season on Saturday, July 21, with a home doubleheader with Searcy. They were scheduled to play Mountain Home at North Little Rock on Wednesday, July 18, then take on Jonesboro again on Thursday, July 19, at Conway.
Sheridan, which would’ve pulled even with Bryant in the standings with a sweep of the double-dip, will finish tied with Little Rock Oxford Printing for third in the league. Because Oxford swept Sheridan during the season, it will retain the third seed with Sheridan fourth.
Bryant 5, Sheridan 2
In the game that clinched second, Kevin Littleton, Chance King and Chris Sory combined to shut down Sheridan’s offense, allowing just six hits.
The Sox used a three-run fourth highlighted by Matt White’s two-out, two-run double to gain the upper hand.
White was 3-for-4 in the game. Jordan Davis had two hits including a solo homer in the second which provided the first tally of the game.
Sheridan tied it in the bottom of the second when Josh Anderson singled, swiped second and raced home on a base hit to center by Zach Barnett. An error in the outfield allowed Barnett to reach second on the play. Littleton then struck out three in a row but a third-strike passed ball allowed the last victim, Robby Daniel to reach base while Barnett took third.
But Littleton got Russ Carey to bounce into a force at second to end the threat.
It stayed knotted at 1 until the Bryant fourth. Davis and Brown made a couple of loud outs to start the inning then Littleton beat out an infield hit. He dashed all the way home on a long double to left-center by Cody Graddy.
A walk to Scott Yant and an error which allowed Dustin Morris to reach base loaded the bags for White who mashed a 3-1 delivery down the left-field line.
Sheridan got a runner to third in the fourth and the fifth but stranded them as Littleton then King pitched out of trouble with the help of some sparkling defense by Brown at short and Michael McClellan at first.
Sheridan trimmed a run off the lead in the sixth when Anderson doubled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout.
Bryant got the run back in the top of the seventh though. Beau Hamblin singled the Barnett, the Sheridan pitcher, unleashed a wild pickoff throw to first allowing Hamblin to sprint to third. Davis walked and, after a pitching change, Brown grounded into a force at second as Hamblin came home.
Sory, who relieved in the sixth, worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, fanning two, to sew up the victory and a save.
Sheridan 6, Bryant 5
After rallying from a 6-3 deficit, Bryant put itself in position to win in the seventh when Matt White walked and, with one out, dashed to third on a hit-and-run single by Hamblin. But Davis, who leads the team in home runs with 10, bounced into a game-ending doubleplay.
The Sox led early. In the first, Morris singled and, with two down, Hamblin worked a walk out of Sheridan starter David Bridges. Davis then cracked a triple down the line in right to make it 2-0.
Sheridan got a run in the second when Craig Manatt drew a one-out walk, Jared Winston singled to right then Bryant starter Scott Yant had a pair of pitches in the dirt get past Graddy, his catcher. The second one brought Manatt home. Winston reached third but went no further when Yant fanned Daniel and Jason Wood around a walk to Chase Buie to end the inning.
Sheridan gained the upper hand with a three-run fourth highlighted by a two-run homer to dead center by Wood.
Bryant cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the fifth on singles by Matt Lewis and Sory and a sacrifice fly by Morris.
Stan Moseley, who had two hits for Sheridan, doubled to start the fifth. Anderson walked then both moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Barnett. Manatt then doubled to make it 6-3.
Brown’s solo shot with two down in the sixth initiated a Bryant rally. Graddy was hit by a pitch then Lewis’s pop behind second was dropped.
Sory, who had two hits for Bryant, singled to bring Graddy home but that’s all the Sox could get.