AAA Sox gain split, top seed for District IV tournament
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 — Bryant Black Sox first baseman Derek Chambers had been hitting in some bad luck recently. Despite the fact that he had nailed the ball repeatedly, he entered a twinbill with the Sheridan Yellowjackets with a top seed in the Zone IV Tournament on the line, having gone hitless in four straight games. Previously this season, Chambers, who led the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in hitting as a freshman this spring, had never going hitless in back-to-back contests, let alone four in a row.
But things tend to even out in baseball. After Chambers snapped his hitless stretch with a scratch hit in the opening game, he was on base four times and went 3-for-4 in the nightcap including a one-out grounder with eyes in the bottom of the seventh that drove in the game-winning run and made the Sox the league’s top seed for the upcoming tournament.
After Sheridan won the first game 4-3 on a two-out hit in the bottom of the eighth, Bryant rallied for a 10-9 victory in the second. Both teams finished 9-5 (along with the Little Rock Diamonds) to lead the Zone — and how’s this for even? — it came down to the third tiebreaker before the Sox the nod. Sheridan will be seeded second and the Diamonds third.
The tournament was set to begin Thursday, July 24, at Bryant High School Field.
The Sox’ last-inning heroics saved what could’ve been a really tough day. After the first game got away, Bryant had taken an 8-0 lead with the help of four Sheridan errors and four walks in the first two innings only to have Sheridan whittle away until taking a 9-8 lead in the top of the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth (Bryant was home in the second game because the doubleheader was playing in lieu of home-and-home contests), the Sox had the potential tying run cut down at the plate.
In the seventh, however, Daniel Price, on in relief of Scott Yant, set Sheridan down 1-2-3. The bottom of the inning began with the Jackets’ seventh error of the game. Andrew Norman was the beneficiary. He was then moved to second on a sacrifice by Todd Bryan. After Dustin Tinkler and B.J. Wood walked to load the bases, the count went to 2-0 on Jeff Carpenter.
Sheridan lefty Lake Perry, who had relieved starter Robby Daniel in the third, appeared to be out of gas. Sheridan manager Mike Moore tried to bring Daniel back. He had started as the pitcher/designated hitter and continued to serve as the DH after Perry came in. Apparently, one of the umpires had erroneously told Moore that Daniel could come back and pitch. But the other umpire over-ruled the decision and Perry had to continue.
Carpenter walked to force in the tying run then Chambers bounced an 0-1 pitch up the middle for the game-winner.
Daniel, a redshirt freshman at the University of Arkansas, and Yant, a redshirt freshman at UALR this spring, started the game which figured to guarantee the game would be another pitchers’ dual like the opener. But Daniel’s effort was undermined by his defense. Bryant only needed one hit to score six times in the first inning. B.J. Wood’s fly to center was misplayed to open the inning. He wound up at third. With one out, Chambers walked then A.J. Nixon’s grounder to second was booted. What should’ve been the third out brought Wood home with the first run.
Travis Wood followed with an RBI single. David Moore’s swinging bunt drew a wild throw to first as two more scored. Walks to Norman and Bryan kept the inning going. Tinkler grounded into a force at third but a throw to first in an attempt to get an inning-ending doubleplay sailed into the right-field corner and both Moore and Bryan scored to make it 6-0.
In the second, Chambers and Travis Wood singled and, with two out, Norman came through in the clutch, smacking a 2-2 delivery for a two-run double.
Yant, who had retired six of the first seven he faced, began to struggle in the third but continued to gut it out. Sheridan scored three runs on four hits. In the fourth, two more scored with the help of a hit batsman and an error.
Meanwhile, Perry had relieved in the third. He pitched around a single by Nixon and a double by Travis Wood, who had three hits in the game, in the fourth.
In the sixth, Sheridan took the lead. John Frazier singled, Matt Weigand tripled and Zak Chumney walked. Price relieved for Bryant but was greeted by an RBI single by Stan Mosley, cutting the lead to 8-7.
Chase Buie and Zach Barnett followed up with sacrifice flies that provided the tying and lead runs, respectively.
In the bottom of the sixth, Chambers singled and Nixon reached when his sacrifice bunt was misplayed. Travis Wood sacrificed the runners to second and third. With the infield in, Moore bounced to second. Chumney checked Chambers at third then threw to first for the out. First baseman Carmilo Vannucci noticed Chambers wandering off third and threw home for the out to retire the side.
But Chambers got the last hack in to win it a while later.
In the opener, Barnett, a freshman pitcher at UCA this spring, and Travis Wood, a 16-year-old member of the Midwest team in the national Area Code Games, engaged in a dual for seven innings. Barnett went eight innings allowing five hits, three runs, walking three and fanning nine. In seven innings, Wood allowed three runs on three hits, walked two, hit two and fanned 11.
B.J. Wood relieved his younger brother in the eighth with the game tied at 3. An infield hit by Frazier opened the inning. Weigand then beat out a bunt for a hit. After Chumney sacrificed the runners to second and third, Mosley was intentionally walked to load the bags. Buie popped out and the Sox were within a strike of getting out of the inning when Barnett lashed a liner to left. Travis Wood, having moved to left, slipped as he tried to break on the ball and despite a desperate dive couldn’t get to the ball and the winning run scored.
The Sox had threatened in the top of the inning when B.J. Wood had smacked a lead-off double and Carpenter had sacrificed him to third. But Barnett struck out Chambers and Nixon to preserve the tie.
Sheridan led early thanks to a two-run homer by Buie in the bottom of the first. In the third, Frazier walked, Weigand beat out a bunt single then the Sox turned a doubleplay as Frazier went to third. A wild pitch allowed him to score before Wood struck out Mosley.
Bryant tied it in the fourth. Carpenter walked then Chambers beat out an infield hit. Nixon followed with an RBI double down the left-field line and Scott Peeler singled up the middle to make it 3-2. An out later, Clay Jones blooped one into right. With the runners hesitating, the ball fell in front of Buie who scooped it up on the first bounce and threw to second for a force as Nixon scored the tying run.
After that, Barnett allowed only two hits, B.J. Wood’s double in the eighth and a single by Peeler with two out in the sixth.
Sheridan only managed an infield hit with one out in the sixth over the last four innings of work by Travis Wood.