Bryant thumps PA to get back on track
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BENTON — Catcher Cody Graddy had three hits and four runs batted in and a trio of players hit home runs as the Bryant Hornets finished off the Benton Panther Invitational Tournament by out-slugging the Pulaski Academy Bruins 19-9 at Bill Perry Field on Wednesday, March 21.
The Hornets bashed 17 hits as ever starter hit safely. Matt White went 2-for-3 and scored four times. He also had one of the homers, a solo shot in the second inning. Dustin Morris, who went 2-for-4, clubbed a two-run shot, part of his four RBI day, and Matt Lewis cracked a three-run dinger, his second in four games.
Though he had his roughest appearance of the season, Scott Yant proved to be the beneficiary of all of the offense, picking up his second win in three decisions with relief help from Beau Hamblin.
The Hornets came into the contest on a two-game skid after they’d reeled off four wins in a row, so the victory over the Bruins was a quick turnaround.
A five-run third inning featuring Lewis’ and Morris’ homers allowed Bryant to break open a close game.
The Hornets scored three runs in the first to take the lead initially. White walked, swiped second and scored on a two-out double by Matt Brown. With that hit, Brown extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
Walks to Graddy and Brandon Nichols loaded the bases for Hamblin who stroked a 3-2 delivery into left for a two-run single.
Pulaski Academy cut a run off the margin in the bottom of the first without a hit. Yant hit the first three batters he faced and the lead man scored on a groundout by Derrick Owen. White prevented further damage with a splendid catch in center to rob Eric Sessions and end the inning.
In the second, the Hornets extended the lead when, with one out, White drilled his round-tripper. Luke Brown followed with a single. He swiped second then third. On the latter, he drew a wild throw which enabled him to score, making it 5-1.
Matt Brown singled and stole a base then scored when Graddy slapped a single into right.
Yant’s wildness returned in the second, however. This time, with one out, he walked four in a row before surrendering a two-run double to Jimmy Tanner and a sacrifice fly to Derrick George. Tanner tried to advance on George’s fly, as well, but a snappy relay from White in center to Matt Brown, the cut-off man, to Zach Martin at third nailed him ending the inning with Bryant clinging to a 6-5 lead.
The telling third began with singles by Nichols and Hamblin to set the table for Lewis. Two outs later, Luke Brown walked ahead of Morris’ blast.
Yant then found his stride and worked a 1-2-3 home third.
A fly to center by Graddy was misplayed to open the top of the fourth. Courtesy runner Jeff Carpenter took third on a wild pitch then scored an out later on a sacrifice fly by Hamblin to make it 12-5.
Yant, who had surrendered just one hit to that point, gave up three around a pop up to start the fourth inning and gave way to Hamblin.
Pulaski Academy was still able to score four times to keep within striking distance.
But the Hornets answered with three more in the top of the fifth. Martin reached on an error, White walked, Luke Brown sacrificed them to second and third and Morris drove both home with a double even though he was thrown out trying to reach third on the play.
Matt Brown reached on an error, however, and scored all the way from first when Graddy launched a double into the left-field corner.
Hamblin worked around a walk in the bottom of the inning and the Hornets put the finishing touches on their rout in the top of the sixth.
With one out, Martin drove the ball to right-center and raced around to third for the first triple of the season for the Hornets. White doubled him home then scored on a single to right by Luke Brown.
Morris walked and, after Matt Brown advanced the runners with a groundout, Graddy drove them home with his second double.