File photo by Kevin Nagle
Freshman right-hander Austin Ledbetter allowed just one hit over five innings and the Bryant Hornets took advantage of four errors by the Star City Bulldogs to score six times in the first inning on the way to a 12-2 victory on Monday night at Bryant High School Field.
The lone hit for Star City, a Class 4A power, was a two-run homer by Sam Reed in the top of the third inning. Ledbetter had just issued a two-out walk — one of just two he allowed — and was a strike away from retiring Reed when the shot came.
Ledbetter retired the first eight batters of the game before that walk. After Reed’s blast, he only allowed one base-runner, Chance Johnson, on his second walk to lead off the fourth. But the Hornets turned a doubleplay to erase him.
In the fifth, Jacob Harrison made a bid for a hit, but left-fielder Gage Stark charged in and robbed him with a sliding catch.
The home first was a disaster for the Bulldogs. Right-hander Hunter Avery walked Logan Chambers to start the inning. Chambers stole second then Coby Greiner got a bunt down that Avery fielded. His throw to first got past Garland Ross, the second baseman who was covering the bag. Chambers scored, and Greiner wound up at second.
On a fly to center by Scott Schmidt, Greiner tagged and went to third. He scored moments later on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
Matthew Sandidge beat out an infield single then the wheels started to come off for Star City. Ledbetter’s grounder to short was booted and when a late throw to first was errant, runners got to second and third.
With two away, Brandon Hoover’s grounder to short drew another wild throw to first and Sandidge hustled home. Stark’s grounder to second was misplayed and K.J. Merriweather, running for Ledbetter, crossed the plate to make it 4-0.
With Hoover at third, Stark stole second to set the table for Myers Buck who burned the right fielder with a drive that resulted in a two-run double and the 6-0 advantage.
Avery and the Bulldogs settled down after that. He pitched around the first of Schmidt’s two doubles in the second and a one-out walk to Hoover in the third.
So, it went to the fourth with the Hornets up 6-2.
In the home fourth, Chambers drew another walk and Greiner beat out a bunt single, the first of his two hits. When Avery’s throw got away, the Hornets had runners at second and third for Schmidt. His second double drove home both runners to make it 8-2. A pair of wild pitches allowed Schmidt to come around and score as well.
Ledbetter eased through the top of the fifth and finished throwing just 68 pitches. With Reed on in relief of Avery in the bottom of the inning, Stark drew a walk and, with one out, Chambers was plunked by an 0-2 pitch.
Greiner doubled in Stark and, after Schmidt drew a walk to load the bases, Sandidge picked up an RBI with a grounder to second. Ross got the force at second but Sandidge beat the throw to first as Chambers scored.
With Greiner at third, Ledbetter drilled an RBI single to left to end the game on the 10-after-5 run rule.
The victory improved the Hornets to 17-5-1 this season. They return to 7A-Central Conference play with a visit to Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock on Tuesday to play the Catholic Rockets, the first of three consecutive road encounters. They’re at Central on Friday then travel to Fort Smith Southside on Tuesday, April 24.