Davidson, Sox win duel, share of Zone 4 crown
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
Aaron Davidson and Reese Cross were matching donuts and it didn’t have anything to do with eating.
With a share of the regular-season Zone 4 championship on the line, Davidson, the right-hander for the Bryant Black Sox AAA American Legion team, was dueling Cross, the right-hander for Pine Bluff Simmons Bank. And both were being stingy.
Through seven innings, Davidson had allowed just four hits without a walk and he had struck out 11. Cross, meanwhile, had held Bryant to three hits, walked one and fanned six.
In the eighth, Davidson pitched around an error to keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the inning, Ryan Wilson beat out a slow roller to short when Dustin Huggins made a nice play, charging in to get the ball, but threw in the dirt to first. Tyler Sawyer couldn’t get a sacrifice bunt down but responded with a solid single to right on an 0-2 pitch, the only hit of the game for either team that was pulled. Trent Daniel got down a perfect sacrifice bunt toward third to move the runners up into scoring position.
To set up a force an any base, Pine Bluff chose to intentionally walk Bryant lead-off batter Joey Winiecki and Cross came back to strike out Jake Jackson then ran the count to 2-2 on Davidson. A strike away from sending the game to the ninth, Davidson poked a single to right to give the Sox a 1-0 win and a share of the league title.
“I’ve been ready since they beat us in Pine Bluff,” Davidson said afterward, referring to a 3-0 loss to Cross and the Bankers on June 21. “It’s been a chip on my shoulder and it’s gone now. I just tried to stay focused, throw strikes, stay in the game both mentally and physically.”
Regarding the game-winning hit, he added, “I was just trying to hit the ball the other way. (Cross) gripped the pitch behind his back and I saw it. That gave it away and I took advantage.”
The win improved the Sox to 28-5 overall and matched Pine Bluff’s 7-2 league mark going into the District Tournament which has been moved to Bryant after Texarkana decided not to host as scheduled. It starts Thursday, July 26. Pine Bluff, the defending State champion, will probably still be the No. 1 seed and receive a first-round bye because of its margin of victory advantage in the two games with Bryant. Bryant, which won the State title two years ago and was the runner-up last season, will most likely be the second seed and will also receive a first-round bye at District.
“We now know that we can beat their ace,” commented Sox manager Craig Harrison. “While it wasn’t 10-0, it was a win. When you come out to the park, the first thing you’re trying to do is win. We would’ve liked to have won by three (to get the top seed) but (Pine Bluff) still has to play two (on Saturday, July 21) against Texarkana. While they should win both games, stranger things have happened.
“Tonight, I thought we competed,” he added. “It was a well-pitched game. Both pitchers had pretty good stuff.”
Bryant didn’t get a runner past second until the sixth when Winiecki singled and Jackson got a bunt down on a 1-0 pitch. Harrison, coaching third, had noticed on the first pitch that third baseman Brooks Taylor had charged hard and left third uncovered. So he signaled to Winiecki to look to go to third if Jackson got the bunt down. And, when he did, the speedy Winiecki never hesitated as, again, Taylor broke on the bunt. But Huggins, the shortstop, made a nice play to get to the bag and first baseman Cory Dejarnette led him on the move with a good throw and he was tagged out.
Pine Bluff threatened in the fourth when Ben Fox bounced a two-out single up the middle for his team’s first hit and Huggins slapped a single to right but Davidson struck out Brett Stewart to end the inning. In the seventh, Huggins beat out an infield hit and Stewart got down a bunt in hopes of sacrificing but when Davidson slipped trying to field it, he wound up with a single. Taylor popped up a bunt to Davidson who struck out the next two to get out of the jam. He finished with 12 strikeouts after he ended the top of the eighth by fanning Fox with a runner at second.