Ransdell pitches Sox past NLR
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
When the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team visited the North Little Rock Colts back on June 20, nothing went their way. There were a couple of controversial plays that helped North Little Rock take an early lead and it seemed that Bryant’s starting pitcher Drew Ransdell was trying to hit a strike zone that resembled a balloon in a breeze, bobbing up and down, back and forth.
It was Ransdell’s shortest outing of the season and wound up being Bryant’s first loss to an Arkansas team.
Well, Ransdell and the Sox got another shot at North Little Rock’s Colts in the final regular-season game at Bryant High School Field on Saturday, July 19. Bryant had already sewed up the regular-season championship of Zone 4 and the Colts had secured the regular-season title in Zone 3, so it was, perhaps a State tournament preview (though both must make it through their Zone tournaments to get to State).
And this time, Ransdell had it going, shutting out North Little Rock on just two hits over five innings as the Sox pinned a 6-1 loss on the Colts.
Ransdell notched his team-high seventh win (7-2) and Bryant improved to 26-8 going into the Zone tourney at Pine Bluff. The right-hander wound up allowing one run on five hits over six innings with one walk and six strikeouts. Tyler Sawyer worked a 1-2-3 seventh to close it out.
“We beat a real quality team,” acknowledged Bryant skipper Craig Harrison. “Drew’s got a lot going on but he was able to come out here and channel all his energy onto the field. I thought he threw one heck of a game. He’s throwing what looks to be a sinker and changing speeds. He’s got hitters off balance and they’re taking swings, most of the games this year — guys just don’t get a good feel at the plate when Drew pitches. He’s got a decent curveball to go with it, when he hits his spot with it.
“He set the tone tonight,” Harrison concluded. “We scored four in the first which helped. We tried to be aggressive on the bases. I was really proud of the way we played. I thought it was one heck of an effort. Hopefully, we can carry this into (the tournament) Thursday.”
It was a game the team could’ve taken lightly and sleep-walked through but they didn’t.
“We challenged them all year about having to play every day,” Harrison said. “No matter who your competition is, what the weather is, how many games we’ve played in a row, how many days we’ve been off, when you come out here on the field, we’ve got to bring it. Other than a couple of things, I thought it was one of our more solid performances of the year.”
The four-run first came against Hunter Benton, the same pitcher that started against the Sox at North Little Rock earlier in the year. Benton hit Tyler Pickett with one out to get the uprising started. Sawyer smacked a single to left then David Guarno walked to load the bases. Jordan Knight then lifted a fly to medium-depth left but Pickett tagged and headed home. The throw was up the line and when Sawyer took off for third, North Little Rock catcher Kyle Thompson threw there but threw wild. Sawyer scored and when left-fielder Kell Crain mishandled the ball, Guarno made it to third. He scored moments later on a single by Kaleb Jobe who got to second when the ball was kicked in right. Trent Daniel followed with a shot to the gap in right-center that went for a triple to make it 4-0.
Though Benton struck out the side in the second, the Sox got the rest of their runs off him in the third. Sawyer walked, Guarno lofted a single to right and, with two down, Daniel drove both home with a base hit.
Meanwhile, Ransdell allowed just one base runner over the first three innings. Benton walked to lead-off the second but was stranded. In the fourth, Dean Larson managed the Colts’ first hit, a bad-hop single to the right side. But with one out, the Sox turned a doubleplay to get out of the inning.
Thompson singled in the fifth then Matthew Strippling reached on an error but Ransdell got the first out on a comebacker, throwing to third for a force. Carroll Newton then tapped back to the mound and Ransdell fanned Cody Grace to get out of the inning.
Larson doubled with one out in the sixth, took third on a two-out single by Benton and scored North Little Rock’s lone run on a wild pitch.
Thompson followed with a base hit but Ransdell fanned Strippling to end the inning.
Strippling, on the other hand, took over for Benton on the mound after the third and shut out the Sox on one hit over three innings.