Sox re-group, thump Sheridan
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By ROB PATRICK
SHERIDAN — Though there was plenty to be pleased with, Bryant Black Sox Senior American Legion coach Craig Harrison may not have gotten any more excited during his team’s Area IV game at Sheridan on Wednesday, June 4, than in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Sox were already up 11-3 thanks in large part to a pair of two-run doubles by Jordan Knight and three hits and three RBIs for Michael Haydon along with some bulldog pitching by Drew Ransdell.
In the home fourth, Sheridan’s Nathan Ware drew a walk and, after Ransdell struck out Blade Batchelor, Daniel Ramsey hit a sharp grounder to short.
Now, because of starting shortstop Cody Walker’s broken thumb, the Sox had moved Tyler Sawyer to short this week. He hadn’t played there since Babe Ruth League but he’d adapted pretty well. But Sawyer is one of the Sox’ prime pitchers so Harrison has been looking for someone else to step in there. He turned to Junior Sox shortstop Jonathan Wade and had started him at Sheridan at second base to get his feet wet at the Senior level.
But, during a second-inning plate appearance, Sawyer felt a twinge in his back and Harrison, along with assistant Tic Harrison, had decided to sit him down. So Wade was thrust right into action at short with Sergio Arias, a youngster who had to step in at second in similar fashion at the start of the season, taking over at second.
So when Ramsey’s bouncer was fielded nicely by Wade and he flipped it accurately to Arias to retire Ware, and Arias made the pivot and fired to Haydon at first for the doubleplay . . . well, Harrison was glad to see it.
“It was good to see,” he said later. “We told them in the post-game (meeting) that, if you’re out here on the team, we’re not afraid to put you in or you wouldn’t be here. We don’t just carry guys that don’t have a purpose. Our plan was, we wanted to start (Wade) at second and get him a little relaxed at a position where it’s not do-or-die on a groundball. But, in the second inning when Saw tweaked his back on a foul ball, Tic said lets’ get him out and I agreed. You don’t want one of our main pitchers to go down out here in a game we should be able to handle. (Wade) moved over there and he looked nice on the play.
“And I’m excited about all our players,” Harrison emphasized. “I thought Doc (Ransdell) threw well tonight and he didn’t have all his stuff. He couldn’t get his breaking pitch over, he couldn’t get his split over but he was able to get outs with mainly one pitch. He got to a pitch count there and we wanted to get Preston (Adami) in the game. They got two hits off of him and it could’ve gotten ugly but he bore down and got the last two outs.”
The Sox were coming off a lackluster performance at Hot Springs Lakeside which they found a way to win, 3-2.
“Every day is different and I thought we’d come out and play a little better tonight,” said Harrison. “I was really proud of the way we swung the bat.”
Bryant had 10 hits to take advantage of six Sheridan errors, four walks and two hit batsmen.
The first miscue may have been the most costly for Sheridan. Starter Brad Tarter had walked Kaleb Jobe and Tyler Pickett to start the game but retired the next two and appeared to be out of the inning when he got Knight cue a roller off the end of the bat toward second baseman Batchelor who booted it allowing Knight to reach and Jobe to score.
Trent Daniel drew a walk to load the bases then Tarter unleashed a wild pitch that allowed Pickett to score. Hayden followed with a shot off the glove of the leaping Batchelor for a two-run single and a 4-0 lead.
“They gave us the first inning,” Harrison noted. “That guy makes the play (on Knight’s grounder) and it’s nothing-nothing and we feel really bad about leaving two on and nobody out. But they kicked it and we got aggressive after that.”
Sheridan got on the board in the bottom of the inning on a solo homer by Matt Buie, but the Sox went back to work in the second. Pickett singled and swiped second and, after a two-out walk to Dave Guarno, Knight ripped a double over the center-fielder’s head to chase both home.
Singles by Ware and Batchelor and a sacrifice fly by Ramsey trimmed a run off that 6-1 advantage in the home second but, again, the Sox answered. Haydon ripped a double to the gap in left-center, advanced to third on an error as Justin Blankenship reached then scored on Jobe’s sacrifice fly.
Tarter walked, took second on a sacrifice by Shane Harrington and scored on a single by Ryan Bridges to make it 7-3 then the Sox broke it open with a four-run fourth. Arias got things going with a single. Guarno was hit by a pitch and Knight cracked his second two-run double. Haydon doubled in Knight then, after Blankenship reached on an error, Wade singled in a run to make it 11-3.
In the fifth, the Sox used two more Sheridan errors to add a run. After Ransdell retired the first batter of the bottom of the fifth, Adami relieved and was greeted by a double from Buie and a single by Tarter but he got Harrington to pop out then fanned Bridges to end it.