Winiecki, Grisham spark Black Sox over Fayetteville
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
LITTLE ROCK — Joey Winiecki rifled an 0-1 pitch to the gap in left-center to drive in David Guarno with the winning run as the Bryant Black Sox AAA American Legion team edged the Fayetteville Lindsey & Associates Dodgers, 2-1, at UALR’s Curran-Conway Field on Friday, July 7.
The run was the first scored by either team since the second inning as Sox lefty Casey Grisham and Dodgers right-hander James McCarty dueled. Grisham finished with a two-hitter, fanning four, walking one and hitting a batter. Fayetteville’s lone run was unearned.
McCarty allowed six hits including two to first baseman Cory Lambert, walked three, hit one and fanned five.
“Just trying to throw strikes and give the team a chance, that’s all I’m supposed to do,” Grisham said afterwards. “My arm felt pretty good, probably the best it’s felt so far. Usually I get around the seventh inning and it’s tired. Today, I probably could’ve gone two or three more (innings). I felt good.”
Grisham red-shirted as a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas this spring. “I feel like the program at UCA, just the strengthening, helped my arm a whole bunch,” he added. “It definitely made my arm stronger.”
The Sox, coming off a loss in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions in Alton, Ill., on Tuesday and playing without shortstop Justin Wells (out with a swollen knee), looked a little ragged in the first inning. Grisham retired the first two batters then a pair of errors put runners at first and third. A wild pitch allowed the run to score as Grisham issued his lone walk. But he got Drew Baker to bounce out to short to end the inning.
After that, Fayetteville only managed to get a runner as far as second once. That was in the third when a hit batsman and a bunt single put runners at first and second with one out. But Grisham induced a doubleplay ball to shortstop Danny Riemenschneider and second sacker Devin Hurt turned it to end the inning.
Grisham retired the next six in a row before Colton West led off the sixth with a single to right. But catcher Aaron Davidson threw West out trying to steal and Grisham retired the next two.
He then worked around a lead-off error in the seventh to set up the winning rally.
“The first inning, I didn’t know,” stated Sox manager Craig Harrison. “We talked about adversity. We knew Justin wouldn’t go. We were going to have to play as a team. In the first inning, we had some adversity, didn’t make some plays defensively, guys were yelling at each other, complaining to the umpire. We got out of it, came in and we’re still griping. After the second inning, we came in and said, ‘Look, we’ve got to play as a team. That’s how we got here. One player out doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to go out there and do your job. We’ve been in these games before.’
The Sox tied it in the bottom of the first when Lambert singled and Hurt was hit by a pitch. Travis Queck got down a sacrifice bunt then Ryan Wilson delivered a sacrifice fly.
Bryant didn’t threaten again until the sixth when, with two down, they loaded the bases on singles by Davidson and Lambert and a walk to Hurt. But McCarty got off the hook with a strikeout.
In the seventh, however, Guarno drew a one-out walk and Justin Gaddy blooped a single to right to set the table for Winiecki.
“If we can get some production out of the bottom of the lineup it helps us out,” Harrison said, referring to Guarno hitting eighth and Gaddy ninth. “Good job of hitting there (by Gaddy), then I kind of felt like Joey had (McCarty) measured. He pulled one down in the corner (foul). I thought the ball was going to go into right field and I was going to have to decide whether to send Guarno or not. You know, as a third-base coach, when you’ve got a man on second, you love to see ball in the gap so you don’t have any decisions.”
And that’s just where the second pitch to Winiecki wound up, splitting the outfielders in left-center.
“We were fortunate to win,” Harrison acknowledged. “That’s a good team over there but that’s why we play these games. We want to get better ourselves.”