Bryant blitzes crippled Hogs
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 — In a game that was suddenly imperative to win, the Bryant Black Sox came up big in the Zone 4 AAA American Legion Tournament Sunday, blasting the Texarkana Razorbacks 19-1 in seven innings to advance to the winners bracket finals, a win away from a state tournament bid.
Because of the rains that postponed almost half of the first round of the tournament on Friday, the schedule was pushed back. As a result, the loser of the second round winners bracket game was forced to come back the same day to play a fresh opponent in an elimination game, even though that opponent had lost its opener.
And, as it turned out, both Texarkana and Sheridan, the other first-round winner that lost on Sunday, were knocked out of the tournament Sunday night by Benton Fitness Unlimited and Little Rock Oxford Printing, respectively. Fitness and Oxford were playing their first games on Sunday.
Not to say the same fate would’ve awaited the Black Sox, but why tempt fate? The Sox took care of business early and, in doing so, matched manager Craig Harrison’s winningest team, with 37 victories. That 1995 squad went on to a State title and a third-place finish in the South Central Regionals.
Sunday’s win was one more step toward an attempt by the 2001 edition of the Sox to match a few of the other accomplishments of that ’95 team.
It didn’t hurt that Texarkana lost projected starting pitcher Chris Bearden who, along with younger brother Bryan, head up the team’s thin pitching staff. The elder Bearden suffered a badly broken nose when he was hit by a relay throw from the outfield as he slid into second base in Texarkana’s 16-15 win over Oxford Printing on Friday. He was also one of the Razorbacks’ top hitters.
But even with Bearden, the result may not have been much different. The Sox slugged 14 hits including five for extra bases. Cody Graddy went 2-for-2 with a double and his second home run in as many games in the tournament. Dustin Morris, Beau Hamblin, Matt Brown and Chris Sory each had two hits as well.
Hamblin broke up a scoreless game with his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the top of the second.
The Sox added two more in the inning to secure the upper hand in the game. Kevin Littleton walked and Graddy was hit by a pitch ahead of a single by Sory that loaded the bases for Morris who got a run home on a grounder to the right side. Graddy scored on a passed ball.
Bryant starter Brad Chism, meanwhile, shackled the Razorbacks on just two hits over the first four innings. Brandon Attaway, who had three of his team’s six hits in the game, had a single to left in the third. That and a fly to center by Demarcus Coats in the first were the only times Texarkana got the ball out of the infield until the fifth.
The Sox added to their lead in the fourth when Brown singled with one out, Graddy doubled and, with two down, Morris lined a 2-2 delivery off the fence in left-center to make it 6-0.
In the top of the fifth, Michael McClellan drew a walk and, with one out, Hamblin was hit by a pitch. When Littleton reached on an error, the bases were loaded for Brown who drove home two with a single to left.
Casteel was relieved by right-hander Jacob Hudson but Graddy got another RBI with a sacrifice fly that made it 9-0.
Texarkana threatened in the bottom of the inning when Hudson doubled, Attaway beat out an infield hit and Bailey walked with one down. But Chism struck out Coats and clean-up hitter Brandon Hall to preserve the shutout.
Bryant put the run-rule in play (10-run lead after seven innings) in the sixth. Morris doubled, Matt White walked and McClellan singled to make it 10-0.
White sprinted home when Davis grounded to first. Hamblin singled in McClellan and it was 12-0.
Chism worked around an error in the bottom of the inning and the Sox made it a laugher with a seven-run seventh that started with Graddy’s solo blast. Davis singled in a run, Hamblin picked up an RBI when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded then Scott Yant doubled in a pair.
With two down, David Moore, called up from the Sox A team for the tournament, singled to left to drive in a run in his first AAA Legion at-bat. Yant scored on the play from second, as well, when the ball was booted in the outfield.
Texarkana avoided the shutout in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of singles and a groundout.
Sunday night, Texarkana was ousted by Benton 11-10, blowing a 9-6 lead in the ninth.