Coach wants more life from AA Sox
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By ROB PATRICK
It wasn’t about winning or losing. After all, the Bryant Blacksox AA American Legion team eked out a 5-4 win over Morrilton Chart Bank in their game Monday, June 14, at Bryant High School Field.
No, it was something beyond that which stirred Sox manager Darren Hurt to have his players run a few wind sprints after the game.
“This was terrible,” Hurt said of the game. “They just came out here and went through the motions with no life whatsoever. They didn’t have anything in ‘em. They showed up with no emotion.
“You know, our bench, all year, one of our strengths is that our bench has been behind us 100 percent,” he explained. “If you’re not in the starting lineup, you cheer and holler for your teammates, supporting them. There was none of that tonight. All we had was some joking going on and goofing off in the dugout. I tried my best to fire them up for about three innings, then I realized it wasn’t doing any good so I let them pretty much go on their own to see what they would do.
“I really don’t know how we won the game,” Hurt stated, “but it was very ugly. I’ve told them all year, (you can) lose a ball game, play hard, execute and I have no problem with that. And we’ve lost a couple of games that way, where we played good baseball. But I would rather lose a game that we played and execute than I would to win a ballgame like this one, I promise you.”
As it was, the Sox had to rally with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. They won it in the bottom of the seventh when Gaston Youngblood drew a walk with the bases loaded.
Defensively, they committed two errors but also made a couple of mental mistakes along the way. Those came after right fielder Lance Hodges saved a run in the top of the first. With a runner on third and two outs, Hodges came in and made a diving catch to rob Justin Mallett of an RBI single.
Offensively, the Sox pounded out 13 hits including three each by Danny Reimenschneider, Casey Grisham and John Newman. Grisham’s included a pair of triples. But they stranded 10 base runners, made a couple of baserunning mistakes and Morrilton turned a pair of doubleplays.
Still, the Sox took an early lead when, in the bottom of the first, Reimenschneider singled, Devin Hurt sacrificed him to second and, after Grisham reached on an error, Newman blooped a single to left to make it 1-0.
It stayed that way until Morrilton scored three times in the top of the third. A two-run double by Mallett and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Keller put the Bankers on top.
The Sox got one back in the bottom of the inning when Hurt singled and Grisham drilled his first triple to center.
Morrilton got that back in the top of the fourth without a hit as the Sox committed their two errors. But Tanner Zuber, on in relief of Aaron Davidson kept it at that and held Morrilton into the seventh, scattering three hits.
After stranding runners at second and third in the bottom of the fourth, Bryant’s tying rally began with a single by Reimenschneider. With one out, Grisham cranked a triple to right-center then scored on Newman’s base hit to left to tie it. Newman swiped second and Davidson walked but they were stranded.
Zuber gave up a lead-off single in the top of the seventh then, after unleashing a wild pitch, went 3-1 on the next batter Mallett. Youngblood was brought on at that point and got Mallett to pop out to Grisham at first then retired Keller on a comebacker and Tyler Owens on a fly to center.
Buoyed by that narrow escape, the Sox put together the winning uprising, starting with a single by Grisham and a double by Newman. Davidson was issued an “unintentional intentional” walk to load the bases and set up a force at each base.
But Jake Roper, the Morrilton pitcher, almost escaped. He retired the next two to get one out away from sending it to the eighth. But he wound up issuing a walk to Youngblood that forced in the game-winner.
With the win, the Sox improved to 12-5 on the season going into a doubleheader at Benton on Thursday, June 17.