Photos by Kevin Nagle
By Rob Patrick
After surrendering a hit on a slow infield roller with one out in the top of the first, Bryant Hornets[more] right-hander Blaine Knight faced the minimum through six innings — 17 batters — and, with some relief help from Nate Rutherford, came away with the victory in a 3-2 game against the Maumelle Hornets Monday night.
Knight had a two-hit shutout going through six — the other hit was a ground single into left in the fifth by Jacob Hollingsworth. He struck out seven without a walk.
But Hollingsworth, a lefty, nearly matched him, giving up an unearned run in the first then frustrating the Hornets through five innings. The Hornets scratched out two runs in the bottom of the sixth, runs that proved to be crucial when Maumelle rallied for two in the top of the seventh.
Rutherford got the final three outs and forced Maumelle to strand the tying run at third.
“Blaine did a good job,” said Hornets coach Kirk Bock. “He was up in the zone early in the game but then he started settling down and hitting some spots.”
Knight was coming off a rugged start against a powerful Midlothian, Texas team at a tournament in Waxahatchie.
“He got a lot more confidence right there,” Bock said of Monday’s performance. “He did a good job. After he settled down, he got the ball down in the zone. That’s what he’s got to do. That’s what everybody’s got to do. If he can do that, he can be effective.”
The lone run over the first five innings came in the home first when Trevor Ezell drew a walk, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third when Jason Hastings’ grounder to short was botched then scored on a passed ball.
Bryant had runners on base in every inning but stranded eight against Hollingsworth, who wound up throwing 125 pitches.
The tell-tale home sixth began with Harrison Dale’s single up the middle. Blaine Jackson got down his second successful sacrifice bunt of the game then Marcus Wilson looped a single to left, his second base hit of the game. Dale scored and when the high-arcing throw home from the outfield sailed over everybody’s head, Wilson sprinted into third.
That brought up Tyler Green who worked the count to 2-1 then got the squeeze bunt down. Wilson scored to make it 3-0.
“Those were huge,” Bock acknowledged. “In hindsight, we probably should’ve started doing that earlier because we had some opportunities. But I chose not to. I just kept thinking that we’d get on that guy (Hollingsworth).
“He did a great job,” the coach noted. “He changed speeds well and just his delivery to the dish — he’d slide step and then he’d do a full stretch — he kind of had us off-balance a little bit. He did a tremendous job.
“But it seems like we’re going to get five hits whether the guy’s throwing 102 or 62 (miles per hour),” he added. “It’s just getting in a rhythm and we really haven’t been able to. We’ve had one b.p. (batting practice) outside in 15 days now and that was today. But we’ll figure it out. We’ve got to figure it out.”
After the infield single in the first, Knight had retired 11 in a row. Hollingsworth singled in the fifth but pinch-runner Aaron Fagen was thrown out trying to steal by Jackson. Knight followed up with back-to-back strikeouts and a 1-2-3 sixth.
In the seventh, however, Maumelle’s Tanner Kirby led off with a single. He advanced on a wild pitch and took third on an errant pickoff throw. Ryan McCullough singled him in to break up the shutout.
Bock brought on Rutherford, his ace to close it out, but his first pitch to Walker Culp was lined down to left for a double putting the potential tying run in scoring position with nobody out.
Hollingsworth made it 3-2 with a sacrifice fly then Mason Quick tapped back to the mound as courtesy runner Dante Moore advanced to third. He remained right there, however, as Maumelle’s Chad Cox rolled out to Ezell at short to end the game.
The Hornets are now 3-3 on the season going into Thursday’s home contest against North Little Rock.
BRYANT 3, MAUMELLE 2
Maumelle ab r h bi Bryant ab r h bi
Summons, cf 3 0 0 0 Ezell, ss 2 1 0 0
Kirby, ss 3 1 2 0 Thompson, 2b 3 0 0 0
McCullogh, 1b 3 1 1 1 Tipton, ph 1 0 0 0
Culp, c 3 0 1 1 Hastings, rf 3 0 1 0
Moore, cr 0 0 0 0 Lessenberry, dh 2 0 1 0
Hollingsworth, p 2 0 1 0 Holt, 1b 3 0 0 0
Fagen, cr 0 0 0 0 Dale, 3b 2 1 1 0
Quick, 3b 3 0 0 0 Jackson, c 1 0 0 0
Cox, 2b 3 0 0 0 Wilson, lf 3 1 2 1
Carter, rf 2 0 0 0 Green, cf 1 0 0 1
Stricklin, lf 2 0 0 0 Knight, p 0 0 0 0
Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0
Totals 24 2 5 2 Totals 21 3 5 2
Maumelle 000 000 2 — 2
BRYANT 100 002 x — 3
E—Kirby, McCullogh, Stricklin, Knight. LOB—Maumelle 2, Bryant 8. 2B—Lessenberry, Culp. S—Jackson 2, Green. SF—Hollingsworth. SB—Hastings 2, Lessenberry.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Hollingsworth(L) 6 3 1 5 4 7
Knight (W) 6 2 2 4 0 7
Rutherford (S) 1 0 0 1 0 0
Knight faced two batters in the seventh.
HBP—Ezell (by Hollingsworth). WP—Hollingsworth, Knight. PB—Culp.