By Rob Patrick
LITTLE ROCK — Playing on the hot plate that is the artificial-surface infield at Gary Hogan Field at Curren-Conway[more] Park on a 100-degree day, the Sport Shop Black Sox Junior American Legion team of Bryant, appeared to be headed for a 4-1 loss to the Little Rock Express Junior team Sunday afternoon. The Express was three outs away from winning the first of two only to have the Sox erupt for eight runs in the top of the seventh on the way to a 9-4 win.
In the second game, a five-inning contest, Blake Patterson’s one-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning gave the Bryant team a 2-1 walk-off win.
“Both of them were good wins,” said Chris Tipton, serving along with Jeff Besancon and Stephen Kincaid as interim coaches for manager Tyler Pickett and assistant Phil Pickett who were in Omaha with the Senior team. “I was real happy, more happy with the first game, the way they stuck in there. We just kept feeling like, if we could get through the first (pitcher) and they had to bring somebody else in, we could do what we did. It was just about being patient, staying with it and not panicking.
“I’ve called them cardiac kids since they were 7,” Tipton mentioned, “because they always seem to find a way. They just always like to wait until the last minute to do it. The same way with the last game, we decided right there at the fifth inning. It was ‘Okay, let’s get a run and go home.’ And they did it.”
It was the seventh straight victory for the Sox and the 10th in their last 11 games. Now 12-5 on the season, they were set to return to action at Sheridan on Wednesday before hosting Little Rock Blue on Thursday then closing out the regular season on Monday, July 2, at Lakeside. The Zone 4 Junior District Tournament in Sheridan begins Friday, July 6.
“To know that they can come back no matter what the situation, I think it’s going to help them in the District,” Tipton said. “That’s what we talked about after the game. They’re fixing to get seeded for District. They need to try to be a number one or two seed so they can get a bye, rest their pitching.”
He added that the Sox got good work on the mound from Justin Emmerling and Blake Patterson in the opener then Dakota Besancon in the nightcap.
“Emmerling did a great job today,” said the coach. “He didn’t get any run support until after we put Patterson in. If we had run-supported him early, that game would’ve been over. Besancon, the same way. He pitched a gem he just didn’t get much run support.
“So I think everything’s in place,” he added, referring to District. “It’s just a matter of the kids jumping up and doing it.”
Emmerling and Little Rock’s Will Kidd dueled in the first game. Through four innings, Kidd had allowed just three hits including a double by Besancon to lead off the second and a two-out double by Drew Tipton in the third. He worked around a two-out single by Jimbo Seale in the top of the fourth.
Emmerling had pitched around a two-out single to Brock Ferguson in the second, an infield hit by Geoff Flemmons in the second and a one-out walk to Ryan Panyard in the third.
In the fourth, however, Kidd singled and, an out later, Colton Fisher added a base hit that was misplayed in the outfield allowing the runners to wind up at second and third. On a pickoff attempt at third, Emmerling was cited for a balk, which allowed courtesy runner Andrew Wiechern to come home. With Fisher on third, a tap by Flemmons was hit too slowly for Tipton, coming in from second, to make a play on Fisher coming home. He got the out at first, however, then Emmerling got out it when Tanner Moore popped out to Besancon at third.
The Sox threatened to answer in the top of the fifth. Andrew Kincaid guided a single into right and, after Emmerling was robbed of a hit on sliding catch in left by Panyard, Dalton Holt cracked a single to left-center. Tipton followed with a shot that got down for a single to load the bases. But Kidd induced a pair of infield pops to escape with the 2-0 lead intact.
Emmerling retired the side around a two-out walk in the fifth and the Sox made it a 2-1 game in the top of the sixth when, after being aggressive at the plate all game, they adjusted to the small strike zone and became more patient. With one out, Seale waited out the first walk Kidd had given up. And when Weston Jones drew a pass on four pitches, Kidd gave way to Will DeYmaz.
A walk to Kincaid loaded the bases then Emmerling got a run home with a grounder to short that resulted in a force. But that’s all the Sox could get in the inning as DeYmaz got Holt to bounce out.
Similarly, walks got Emmerling into trouble in the bottom of the inning. Patterson relieved and surrendered a run on a groundout then consecutive walks to DeYmaz and Panyard forced in a second run, making it 4-1.
Patience continued to pay for the Sox in the seventh when Tipton and Patterson drew lead-off walks. DeYmaz gave way to Ferguson and the Sox started connecting. The patience still helped. When Hunter Oglesby cracked an RBI double, he was ahead in the count 2-1. After Besancon ripped a liner that carried out to Panyard for the first out, Seale got ahead in the count 2-1 then bounced a single into left to drive in Patterson. On the very next pitch, Jones pulled an RBI single to left and the game was tied.
Kincaid reached on an error to load the bases for Collins Fredriksson, who lofted a pop down the right-field line that no one could get to. Braylon Mays, running for Seale, sprinted home with the go-ahead tally.
Jones came home when Holt grounded into a force at second. That brought Tipton back up and he laced a single to left that chased home both Kincaid and Holt. The throw from Panyard was cut off by Ferguson who fired to second trying to get Tipton as he advanced. The throw was wild, however, Tipton sprinted towards third and when the centerfielder didn’t field the ball cleanly, around he came for home. With a head-first slide, he scored to make it 9-4.
Patterson needed just eight pitches to retire the side in the seventh, closing out the win.
In the second game, Besancon dueled with Flemmons. The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first. Patterson reached on an error but was spiked on a pickoff attempt. Mays came on to run for him and moved to second when Oglesby walked. Besancon bounced into a force at third but Seale got the run home with a single to left-center.
The Express had threatened to take the lead in the top of the inning but a head’s-up play by Patterson prevented it. Panyard had drawn a lead-off walk. Moore sacrificed him to second and, with two out, Jack Lee hit a grounder into the hole between third and short. Tipton, playing third, tried to cut it off to his left but couldn’t get to it. Patterson, however, back-handed the ball. When he saw he had no play at first, Patterson checked on Panyard and realized the Express base-runner had made a big turn toward home expecting a throw to first that never came. He tried to scramble back to third but Patterson beat him there and tagged him out to end the inning.
Besancon then worked around a two-out hit batsman in the second before Little Rock tied it in the third. Panyard drew another walk and this time he came around. He stole second and, after a two-out walk to Weichern, scored on Lee’s solid single to left.
But from that point, Besancon retired seven of the last eight batters he faced.
Though Bryant was unable to take advantage of a lead-off single by Tipton in the third and went down in order in the fourth, they got the winning run home in the fifth.
Jones singled to open the inning. Holt tried to get a sacrifice bunt down but, on the turf, it got out to Flemmons in time for him to field it and throw to second to force Jones.
On the next pitch, though, Tipton was drilled, moving Holt into scoring position for Patterson who pulled a single to right to knock in the game-winner.
BRYANT SPORT SHOP BLACK SOX 9, LITTLE ROCK EXPRESS 4
Junior American Legion
Black Sox ab r h bi Express ab r h bi
Tipton, 2b-ss 4 2 3 2 Panyard, lf 2 0 0 1
Patterson, ss-p 4 0 1 0 Vandover, 2b-ss 3 0 0 0
Davis, cr 0 1 0 0 Ferguson, ss-p 4 0 1 0
Oglesby, cf 5 1 1 1 Kidd, p-1b 2 1 1 0
Besancon, 3b 4 0 1 0 Wiechern, cr-1b-2b 1 1 0 0
Seale, c 3 0 2 1 Lee, c 3 0 0 0
Mays, cr 0 2 0 0 Fisher, 3b 2 2 1 0
Jones, rf 3 1 1 1 Flemmons, cf 2 0 1 1
Kincaid, 1b 3 1 1 0 Moore, rf 3 0 0 1
Emmerling, p 3 0 0 1 DeYmaz, 1b-p 2 0 0 0
Fredriksson, 2b 1 0 1 1 Wiechern, cr 0 0 0 0
Holt, lf 4 1 1 1
Totals 34 9 12 8 Totals 24 4 4 3
BRYANT 000 001 8 — 9
Little Rock 000 202 0 — 4
E—Oglesby, Wiechern, Ferguson, Flemmons. LOB—Bryant 9, Little Rock 7. 2B—Besancon, Tipton, Oglesby. SB—Ferguson, Panyard, Holt. S—Lee.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Emmerling 5.1 4 3 4 5 3
Patterson (W) 1.2 0 0 0 2 0
Kidd 5.1 1 1 6 2 5
DeYmaz 0.2 2 2 0 3 0
Ferguson (L) 1 6 2 6 0 0
DeYmaz faced two batters in the seventh.
Balk—Emmerling. WP—Kidd. PB—Seale.
BRYANT SPORT SHOP BLACK SOX 2, LITTLE ROCK EXPRESS 1
Express ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi
Panyard, cf 1 1 0 0 Tipton, 3b 2 0 1 0
Moore, 1b 2 0 0 0 Patterson, ss 3 0 1 1
Weichern, 3b 2 0 0 0 Mays, pr 0 0 0 0
Lee, lf 2 0 2 1 Oglesby, cf 1 1 0 0
Kidd, c 2 0 0 0 Besancon, p 2 0 0 0
Flemmons, p 1 0 0 0 Seale, c 2 0 1 1
Ferguson, ss 1 0 0 0 Fredriksson, 2b 2 0 1 0
Knox, 2b 2 0 0 0 Kincaid, 1b 2 0 0 0
Vancover, 2b 0 0 0 0 Davis, rf 1 0 0 0
Smith, rf 2 0 0 0 Jones, ph 1 0 1 0
DeYmaz, rf 0 0 0 0 Holt, lf 2 1 0 0
Totals 15 1 2 1 Totals 18 2 5 2
Little Rock 001 00 — 1
BRYANT 100 01 — 2
One out when game-ending run scored.
E—Knox. LOB—Little Rock 5, Bryant 5. SB—Panyard. S—Moore.
Pitching ip r er h bb so
Flemmons (L) 4.1 2 1 5 1 2
Besancon (W) 5 1 1 2 4 3
HBP—Ferguson (by Besancon).