RUSSELLVILLE — Bryant junior left-hander Evan Lee had the Russellville Cyclones flailing Friday night as he faced one over the minimum in a complete-game no-hit gem at Hickey Park as the Hornets won the first of a 7A/6A-Central Conference doubleheader, 5-0.
In the second game, junior right-hander twirled a two-hit shutout with seventh-inning relief for senior Jason Hastings in an 8-0 win that was also highlighted by a 4-for-5 performance at the plate by senior Drew Tipton.
The wins improved Bryant to 20-2 on the season, 7-2 in the conference going into a non-conference contest at Pine Bluff on Monday then a crucial league game against 7A rival Little Rock Catholic on Friday, April 24.
Only seven batters put the ball in play in Lee’s no-no. He walked three but picked two of them off of first. The third walk, which went to Russellville’s Mark Moyer, came with two out in the bottom of the seventh. Lee closed out the whitewash effort by getting Andy Campbell to fly to Tipton in center. During one stretch, the southpaw retired 12 in a row included eight on strikes.
“That was big,” stated Hornets coach Kirk Bock. “E-Lee’s got that in him on a consistent basis. Everything was in sync tonight.”
Lee was getting strikes on his fastball, his slider and his change-up, often missing bats by a lot.
In the second game, Shurtleff allowed a one-out single to Garrett Freeman in the first and a lead-off single to Moyer in the fourth. He surrendered one walk, which came with two out in the third to Chase Bicanovsky. Freeman was the next batter and made a bid for an extra-base hit only to be robbed by Lee, who hauled in the liner to left-center with a diving back-handed grab to end the inning.
Shurtleff retired the final nine batters he faced, recording four of his six strikeouts during that stretch. Hastings relieved in the seventh and set the side down in order with the help of a good defensive play by first baseman Blake Patterson.
“Great pitching on both ends of that (doubleheader),” Bock stated. “I’m very pleased — and pleased with Jason for coming in and taking care of it at the end. Shurt, I think, got away with a couple of pitches but that was one of the better games he’s thrown — the best since he’s been back from Florida (over spring break).”
Bock was also pleased with the fact that the Hornets cracked 17 hits in the two contests combined, including 10 in the nightcap.
“And we were moving the ball on the ground, we did a good job as far as the short game,” he noted.
For the night, Bryant had four sacrifices including a successful squeeze to get the fifth run of the first contest. The Hornets also came through with three sacrifice flies.
“I think we took advantage of just about everything they gave us in the first game,” Bock mentioned. “Maybe a couple of times we had some miscues but, for the most part, it was one of our better nights. Very encouraging. It makes you want to get up in the morning and do it again.”
In the first contest, catcher Trey Breeding had two hits for the Hornets. In the second, infielders Brandan Warner and Dylan Hurt each socked two hits.
Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the opener. Garrett Misenheimer and Hurt waited out one-out walks then Connor Tatum beat out a bunt single to load the bases. Freeman, the Cyclones’ starter on the mound, then issued a walk to Hastings to force in the run. An out later, Warner made a bid for an extra-base hit but the liner was flagged down in right by Russellville’s Cole McKown.
Lee, after setting down the first five Cyclone batters, walked Jacob Boles. After a pitch to the next batter, Peyton Golden, Lee fired a throw to first to pick off Boles to end the inning.
Bryant tacked on a second run in the top of the third. Breeding beat out an infield hit and courtesy runner Jake East reached second on Lee’s tapper to short. With two down, Misenheimer came through in the clutch, drilling an RBI double inside the bag at third to make it 2-0.
Freeman pitched around a one-out walk to Hastings in the fourth and a lead-off single by Warner in the fifth but ran into more trouble in the sixth than he could escape. Patterson ripped a double over the center fielder’s head. After Misenheimer walked, Hunt sacrificed runners to second and third. A wild pitch allowed Patterson to score. Logan Allen, running for Misenheimer, tagged and scored on Tatum’s fly down the left-field line, making it 4-0.
In the seventh, Breeding was hit by a pitch. East, back in to run for him, swiped second and advanced to third on a wild pitch as Lee was drawing a walk. Patterson followed with the successful squeeze bunt up the first-base line to tack on the fifth run.
Bicanovsky walked to start the home seventh but, like Boles earlier, got picked off first. Freeman was then Lee’s 12th strikeout victim. Moyer walked but Campbell flew out to end the game.
In the second game, the Hornets had runners all of the bases every inning while Shurtleff was shackling the Cyclones. Bryant got on the board in the second. Lee and Patterson drew walks from lefty Ben Wilkins. Misenheimer got a sac bunt down to move them up then Hurt yanked a single into left to make it 1-0.
In the third, Tipton lashed his second hit, stole second and reached third on an errant throw. He scored on Warner’s sacrifice fly.
Shurtleff, meanwhile, worked around Freeman’s first-inning single then retired seven in a row before Bicanovsky walked on a 3-2 pitch.
In the fourth, the Hornets scored four times all after two were out. Again walks helped get things going as Tatum and Hastings drew free passes, setting up Tipton, who shot a double into the left-field corner to chase them both home.
On the next pitch, Warner hit a bloop down the right-field line that no one could get to. He legged it to second as Tipton scored. And when the throw to second was wild, the ball ended up in foul territory down the left-field line. Warner hustled all the way around to score, making it 6-0.
Moyer led off the bottom of the fourth with a single but he proved to be the Cyclones’ last base-runner as Shurtleff and Hastings combined to retire the last 12 batters.
The Hornets tacked on in the sixth. Tipton beat out an infield hit, Warner lashed a single up the middle and, after Breeding sacrificed, Lee was awarded first on an intentional walk to load the bases. Patterson was hit by a pitch to force in a run then Misenheimer delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 8-0.