Hornets reach tourney finals
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
SHERIDAN — Had there been a championship game of the Sheridan Invitational Tournament, the Bryant Hornets would’ve been in it, defending their 2003 tourney title. As it was, the Hornets became the de facto champions as the only unbeaten team left when, due to a scheduling conflict, the White Hall Bulldogs could not be in Sheridan for the game on Thursday, March 11.
The Hornets, who had previously defeated Lake Hamilton and White Hall to start the event, reached the finals by downing Sheridan 8-0 behind the five-hit pitching of senior Daniel Price then knocking off Lake Hamilton again, 12-2 in five innings.
(The four-team event had begun with a round robin, each team playing all of the others. The teams were seeded out of that for a single-elimination tournament. White Hall reached the finals after defeating Sheridan in the tournament phase.)
Price struck out eight and walked just two in his route-going performance against Sheridan. The Yellowjackets managed to get a runner past second just once in the game. That came in the bottom of the second after Bryant had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the inning. A single by Carmillo Vannucci, a walk to Zach Stokes and a groundout had runners at second and third with two down and the top of the Sheridan batting order coming up. But Price got lead-off man Matt Weigand to pop to first to end the threat.
Price had pitched around two singles in the first. He worked around another hit and an error in the third, thanks in large part to his defense. John Frazier’s inning-opening hit to left was flagged down by Dustin Tinkler who fired in to second to nail Frazier trying to leg out a double.
Price then fanned batters around the error to get out of the inning.
An inning-opening single by Vannucci to start the fourth proved to be the last Sheridan hit. Price then retired 11 of the next 12 he faced to close out the game. A sparkling play by Todd Bryan in deep center to rob Sheridan slugger Chase Buie in the sixth helped the cause.
The Hornets, meanwhile, pounded out 13 hits including two each by Bryan, Richie Wood, Zach Young, Tinkler and Dustin Easterly.
Easterly drove in four runs with his two singles and Bryan had three RBIs.
The two-run second began with singles by Young and Tinkler, who kept his batting average above .500 for the season with his 2 for 4 game. Young was forced at third on a hard bunt back to the mound. But, with two out, Easterly stroked a single to right-center that chased Tinkler and Korey Hunter home. Hunter scored when Easterly managed to stay in a rundown between first and second after the relay home had been cut off.
Though the Hornets had baserunners aboard in every inning, they were unable to break through again against Sheridan’s Brooks Rieve. Finally, in the sixth, Rieve gave way in favor of Zak Chumney.
With one out, Travis Wood singled to left and stole second. He hustled into third safely ahead of a throw from short when Easterly hit a grounder that way. Bryan then picked up the RBI when he got a safety squeeze bunt down.
That looked like a big run until the Hornets busted the game open in the seventh.
Richie Wood’s second double of the game got things revved up. Singles by Bryan Griffith and Young brought him around. Again, the Hornets tried to squeeze but, this time, the bunt by Tinkler went right back to Chumney who threw home to nab Griffith — though Griffith and head coach Terry Harper argued that no tag had been applied by Sheridan catcher Kris Pruitt.
Young advanced to third when Andrew Moseley grounded into a force at second but, when Travis Wood was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded for Easterly who delivered again with a single to left to make it 6-0.
And when Bryan beat out an infield hit, Travis Wood scored and, never stopping from second base, so did Travis Queck, the courtesy runner for Easterly.
In the win over Lake Hamilton, the Hornets erupted for eight runs in the first inning to take control of the game in support of senior lefty James Leigh.
Leigh picked up the win with five innings of two-hit pitching. He fanned 11 and walked two. Lake Hamilton managed an unearned run in the third on a walk, an error, a hit batsman and a single. The Wolves trailed 12-1 but added a run in the top of the fifth on a walk, a wild pitch and a two-out, two-strike double. Leigh’s mound opponent Eric Montgomery had both hits.
The Hornets finished with 11 hits including a 3-for-3 performance by Griffith. Bryan and Justin Wells had two hits each.
The eight-run first began with a walk to Bryan, who stole second and scored on a long double by Wells. Richie Wood was hit by a pitch then Griffith doubled to make it 2-0. Young walked to load the bags for Tinkler, who singled in a pair. Young scored on a grounder to third by Travis Wood. Moseley followed with an RBI single. With two down, Bryan singled in Moseley and, after he advanced on an errant pickoff throw, scored his second run of the inning on Wells’ second two-bagger.
A three-run third was ignited by Bryan’s one-out double. Wells was hit by a pitch and, with two down, Griffith beat out an infield hit to load the bases for Young, who cleared them with a double to deep left center.
In the fourth, errors allowed Hunter and Easterly to reach base, Bryan walked and Travis Queck singled in the final run.