LITTLE ROCK — Tyler Nelson and Nate Rutherford combined on a one-hit shutout as the Bryant Black Sox Senior[more] American Legion team dismissed Little Rock Blue at Little Rock Central’s Buddy Coleman Memorial Field Tuesday night.
The Sox hammered out 10 hits including two each by Nelson, Hunter Mayall, Jordan Taylor and Ozzie Hurt. Mayall and Hayden Lessenberry drove in two runs apiece as Bryant improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Zone 4 play.
It was the second straight shutout by Sox pitching. As in all three of the team’s wins, Bryant grabbed an early lead, scoring once in the first and four times in the second.
Nelson had a no-hitter going through five innings before Jonathan Thompson spoiled it by leading off the sixth with a line-drive single to center. Up to 92 pitches at that point, Nelson gave way to Rutherford. He had walked four, hit a pair of batters and struck out eight.
Rutherford closed it out by retiring six of the seven batters he faced, giving up only a one-out walk in the seventh. He struck out the last two.
Brandon Schmidt, the Little Rock starter, walked Mayall to open the game. After a wild pitch moved the runner to second, Nelson singled off the pitch to put runners at first and third. Mayall scored when Taylor’s grounder to short was misplayed.
Central turned a doubleplay to help Schmidt out. He hit Tyler Brown with a pitch then went 2-0 on Lessenberry. When ball three got past the Blue catcher, Nelson tried to score but the backstop at Coleman Field is not very deep and Alex Harvey, the Little Rock catcher, was able to find the ball and flip to Schmidt in time for the third out.
But Nelson worked around a hit batsman and a walk in the bottom of the inning. He picked off the lead runner at second then got Daniel Imbro to fly to Marcus Wilson in center before striking out Schmidt to send it to the second.
Lessenberry reached on a third-strike wild pitch to lead off the new frame and it opened the floodgates. Though Lessenberry was forced at second on a grounder to third by Hayden Daniel, an errant relay allowed Daniel to take second. Hurt was hit by a pitch and, with two down, he and Daniel worked a double steal before Mayall launched a drive to the fence in left for a two-run double. Nelson’s single chased Mayall home and Taylor’s knock to center, followed by an errant throw, made it 5-0.
In turn, Nelson struck out the side in the home second and, after Schmidt worked a 1-2-3 third, the Bryant right-hander fanned two more in the home third before issuing a walk. Thompson grounded out to Taylor at short to end the inning.
In the fourth, Nelson walked Schmidt with one out then hit Dustin Grimmett with a pitch but he struck out Kevin Garner then picked off Grimmett to escape again.
Thoughts of a no-hitter began to escalate as Nelson got through the fifth unscathed despite a two-out walk to Larry Johnson. Schmidt then worked around singles by Hurt and Mayall in the top of the sixth before Thompson spoiled the gem.
Rutherford came on and got Imbro to bounce to Taylor for a force at second. Schmidt flew to center and Grimmett bounced out to Hurt.
Taylor opened the top of the seventh with a double. He held at second as Landon Pickett reached on an error then a bunt single by Brown filled the sacks for Lessenberry who belted a two-run double, which set the final score.
The Sox are set to return to action on Thursday with a doubleheader at Lake Hamilton.