Bearden bids farewell with save
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting 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 — What Tim Bearden will be doing is much more important that what he has been doing.
The work he has been doing, however, has been plenty valuable for the Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion team. A surprise addition to the team after he left school in the spring of 2007, subsequently got his GED and joined the National Guard. He threw a bullpen for Sox coaches Craig and Tic Harrison and they liked what they saw, a hot fastball and a snappy curve and a rested arm. So, while serving one weekend a month for the Guard, Bearden joined the Sox and developed into a late-inning reliever.
But his fourth save of the summer on Wednesday, June 25, will be his last, as it turns out. Bearden got the call to report for active duty at Fort Sam Houston for a 12-week training school that will prepare him for an assignment, unknown at this point.
With that in mind, when Bearden, after giving up a pair of singles as part of a four-run rally by Little Rock Continental Express, got Jim Manney to bounce out to second baseman Garrett Bock to end the Sox’ 7-6 win, the team enthusiastically greeted him as he walked off the field. Tyler Sawyer, the starting pitcher, who’d pitched so splendidly, and earned the victory was the first one to him with a hug.
Craig Harrison admitted after the game that he was emotional about it. “We said in the post-game (meeting) that we were all proud of Tim,” he related. “Tim Bearden has overcome a lot of stuff in the last two years. We said we’re dedicating every game we play, playing for what Tim’s doing for us and for our country, going out there and doing things that allow us to play baseball. I love Tim Bearden. He’s a great guy. And I’m really proud of my team.
“I told them 18-17, 1-0, whatever, this is a big win for us,” he added.
Indeed, the win kept the Sox unbeaten in Zone IV play this season at 8-0 with another crucial battle at Pine Bluff looming on Friday, June 27.
It was also a bounce-back game after a 5-1 loss at home to Lake Hamilton in which the Harrisons were disappointed with their team’s effort to the point where they had the players running wind sprints in the outfield after the game then gathering for a lengthy post-game meeting in deep center field.
“I was very pleased with our effort,” Harrison stated. “We challenged them last night after the (Lake Hamilton) game. We challenged their manhood and asked them to give us more effort. And, no matter the outcome — and I’m glad we won, don’t get me wrong — but I thought we played hard. The guys were running on and off the field, whatever we were doing, we were trying hard to give it our all. Our pitcher got spent because he did that. But we got Timmy in and, fortunately, he got a groundball to a guy that hadn’t played second base in his life. He picked it up and threw it to first. Garrett’s an athlete and we decided we were going to just put guys out there and see what we can do.”
Over the first six innings, Sawyer allowed just one earned run on five hits with eight strikeouts and no walks as his teammates built a 7-2 lead. He fanned the first batter in the seventh but ran out of gas at that point, issuing his first walk to Russell Goss on a 3-2 pitch. Pinch-hitter Drew Tullos followed with a drive to left center that just eluded the diving attempt at a catch by center fielder Jordan Knight and went for a double. Jordan Getchell singled in a run then another scored on Chris Dreidric’s groundout to Michael Haydon at first.
But the out didn’t stem the tide as Scott Chalene drilled a double off the fence in left-center to make it 7-5. Bearden came on and surrendered a single to Matt DeSalvo that sent Chalene to third then a base hit by Mike Alonso made it a one-run game. With the potential tying run at second and winning run on first, Bearden got Jim Manney for the final out.
Both teams scored in the second inning. For Bryant, Knight and Kaleb Jobe drew walks, the second and third of eight issued by Express starter Mark Thompson. Trent Daniel sacrificed the runners to second and third and Haydon lifted a sacrifice fly to right to make it 1-0.
A double by Alonso and a two-out single by Luke Osborne tied it.
Bryant took the lead for good in the fourth. Knight’s opposite field double off the fence set the table. Jobe singled him home and Daniel rolled into a force, hustling to first to avoid the doubleplay. After Daniel stole second, Haydon grounded to the right side to move him to third and Jonathan Wade hit a slow roller to third that he beat out for an RBI single to make it 3-1.
A single, an error and a two-out base hit by Goss trimmed a run off the lead but Sawyer for Continental to strand runners at first and second by inducing a roller to first to retire the side.
And the Sox took control of the game in the fifth, starting with a solo homer by Knight, his fourth of the season and the third in the last 10 days. An angry Thompson walked Jobe on four pitches. Daniel stroked a single to right-center to send Jobe to third. Then a wild pitch allowed him to score. Daniel, who had swiped second, took third on the wild pitch and scored on a two-strike shot up the middle by Haydon that made it 6-2.
In the sixth, Jobe walked for the third time, Daniel beat out an infield hit and, after Haydon reached on a third-strike wild pitch, Wade was hit by a pitch to force in what would prove to be the difference-maker.
Meanwhile, Sawyer was cruising. After Goss’ RBI single in the fourth, he retired eight in a row before issuing the walk to Goss in the seventh.
The Sox improved to 16-5 on the season with the victory.