Big inning breaks open close game, allows Sox past Fina
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
The first day of the American Legion Area IV Zone Tournament at Bryant High School Field bore out the notion that the league was as balanced with good teams as it has ever been. First, second-seeded Sheridan lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to seventh-seeded Benton. Then, the third-seeded Little Rock Diamonds were unceremoniously dumped by the sixth-seeded Texarkana Advanced Medical Razorbacks, 6-3. And, sure enough, the trend continued as fourth-seeded Pine Bluff Simmons First Bank was knocked off by Arkansas Trailer of Little Rock, 8-2.
So, when the top-seeded Bryant Black Sox took the field in the final game of the day, they had fair warning even though they were taking on Benton Big Red Fina, the eighth seed. But, for awhile, the game was dangerously close. Leading just 2-1 going into the sixth, the Sox put an end to the first day’s upsets (mild though they were) by putting together a 10-run outburst to win 12-1 in seven innings.
Fina was a far cry from the team that Bryant opened the season against back on May 18. Bryant manager Craig Harrison credited Benton coach Brandon Wake. “I told him he’s my coach of the year in this league,” Harrison stated. “He’s brought that team a long way.”
Indeed, Fina had the Sox concerned for awhile, taking a 1-0 lead in the first on a double by Cody Rickard and a two-out error. And right-hander Matt Howell made that stand up going into the third when the Sox eked out a run.
With one out Todd Bryan singled — the Sox’ first hit of the game. He swiped second and took third on an errant throw. And when B.J. Wood grounded to second, Bryan scored to tie the game.
Meanwhile, Bryant’s Scott Yant was shutting down Fina. He allowed just four hits in the game, walked only one and fanned six. B.J. Wood made a couple of sparkling plays in Yant’s support in the fourth and, in the bottom of the inning, Bryant took a 2-1 lead.
Derek Chambers drew a lead-off walk then Nixon singled. A passed ball moved the runners up a base then Scott Peeler’s grounder to second got Chambers home.
Yant worked around an error and a single in the fifth, partly due to the fact that he executed a fake-to-third-throw-to-first pickoff. After that, all Benton could muster was an infield hit in the top of the seventh.
Howell worked a 1-2-3 fifth but, in the sixth, he issued a lead-off walk to Chambers on four pitches. After Nixon beat out an infield hit, Travis Wood came through with his first RBI double of the inning. Andrew Norman stepped up for Bryant, smacking a two-run single to break things open.
Howell then walked the next two he faced to load the bases. Cory Roberts relieved Howell but fared little better. Walks to B.J. Wood and Jeff Carpenter forced in runs then Chambers beat out an infield hit to drive in a run. Nixon singled to drive in another then, after Scott Peeler walked, Travis Wood greeted the third Benton pitcher, Derek Bates, with his second double, this time driving in two to complete the scoring.