Hornets outslug White Hall
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
WHITE HALL — When the Bryant Hornets played the White Hall Bulldogs on Monday, March 10, it kind of looked like both teams had been off for a week or so.
Probably because they had.
Snow and rain and more snow washed out a week of play for both teams and Monday’s meeting was hastily added to the schedule to get them some diamond time before more important games that loomed ahead.
For the Hornets, head coach Terry Harper didn’t want his team coming off a 10 or 12 day layoff going into their 7A-Central Conference opener against Russellville on Thursday, March 13.
The game included 16 walks and eight errors but it was exciting as the teams took turns putting together seventh-inning rallies to force extra innings. Kaleb Jobe’s two-strike, two-out RBI single in the top of the eighth drove in Anthony Raby with what proved to be the game-winning run for Bryant. Tyler Sawyer, the third Bryant pitcher, hit a batter to start the bottom of the inning but, after a strikeout, he got Kris Pratt, who was 3-for-3 coming to the plate, to line to shortstop Cody Walker who relayed to Justin Blankenship at first for a game-ending doubleplay.
The Hornets improved to 5-1 with the win which Harper called “ugly.”
“But when you don’t play and still win, that’s a good sign,” he added.
The Hornets cracked 14 hits in the game, three by Walker and two each from Jobe, Sawyer, David Guarno and Trent Daniel. Lead-off man Jake Jackson was on base four times and scored four runs. He also stole two bases and made a key base-running play to help the Hornets take the lead in the top of the seventh.
Bryant trailed 7-6 coming into the inning. With one out, Drew Ransdell skied a pop on the infield that Pratt, at third, misplayed. Pinch-runner Brennan Bullock then scored all the way from first when Jackson blasted a double to the fence in right-center, tying the game.
With two down, Sawyer hit a two-hop shot toward shortstop Sean Baldwin but Jackson paused just long enough on his way to third that Baldwin lost sight of the ball momentarily and he couldn’t handle it cleanly as Sawyer reached. Walker followed with a blast to left-center that scored both, giving the Hornets a 9-7 advantage.
Baldwin became White Hall’s fourth pitcher but he was greeted by Guarno who singled in Walker then raced to third on a slicing single to right off Daniel’s bat. After Daniel swiped second, Guarno scored on a wild pitch to make it 11-7.
Three outs away from a loss, the Bulldogs rallied for four to tie it, however. A third-strike passed ball allowed Louis Hamilton to reach base to start the inning. Preston Adami, the second Bryant pitcher, got the next batter to bounce into a force at second but Matt Law beat the relay to first and, moments later, Pratt drilled a two-run homer to left to cut the lead in half.
Sawyer relieved for the Hornets and struck out the first batter he faced. But Barnes Bloom drew a walk and Baldwin drove a triple to right-center to make it 11-10.
Sawyer got within a strike of ending it there but, after fouling off a 2-2 delivery, Kyle Lusader doubled to left-center to knot it up and put the winning run in scoring position. After an intentional walk to Ethan Harris, Sawyer fanned Matt Harbison on three pitches to get out of the jam and give his team a chance in extra innings.
Raby’s one-out single set up the eighth. He advanced to second on a roller off Jackson’s bat that Baldwin retrieved. The count then went 0-2 on Jobe before he sliced a single to left.
Daniel, Bryant’s ace lefty, started the game and fanned seven in 4 1/3 innings but he also walked eight and hit a batter as he shook off the rust of the layoff.
The Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the first when Jackson walked, swiped second, went to third on a grounder to the right side by Jobe and scored on a bouncer to second by Sawyer.
In the third, Jackson drew another free pass and Jobe doubled him to third. Sawyer’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0 then Walker lashed a triple to the opposite field to score a run. Guarno singled in Walker and it was 4-0.
White Hall got on the board with three in the bottom of the inning, talking advantage of a pair of walks, a double and an error with Hamilton contributing a two-out two-run single.
Three Bulldog errors helped the Hornets get two of those back in the top of the fourth. Jobe picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly and Sawyer’s single off the pitcher’s glove knocked in the second tally. Walker reached on an error and Guarno walked to load the bases with one out but the Hornets couldn’t get any more.
White Hall answered in the bottom of the fourth with two more. Pratt’s pinch-hit single and Garrett Lee’s pinch-hit double set the table. Boom was hit by a pitch and appeared to be picked off with Baldwin at the plate. But Jobe’s throw sailed down the right-field line and Pratt and Lee scored.
Lusinger sacrificed runners to second and third but Daniel bowed up and fanned the next two to preserve the lead for the time being.
But, after the Hornets were unable to take advantage of a one-out single by Ransdell in the top of the fifth, White Hall took the lead in the home half. A walk and a single put runners on the corners with two down. A run scored on a wild pitch and, after another walk, the second come in when Sawyer robbed Bloom of a hit with a fine play at third for the second out of the inning. Adami got Baldwin to bounce out to Jackson at second to keep it a 7-6 game.
The Hornets threatened in the sixth when Sawyer walked, Walker singled and Guarno sacrificed them to second and third but Mason Reynolds, the third White Hall pitcher got out of the jam by inducing a pair of groundouts from Daniel and Jordan Knight.