Hornets come back twice to claim win over Wolves
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
It wasn’t so much that the Bryant Hornets baseball team was behind by two runs in the eighth inning to the only team that had beaten them so far this season. After all, they’d already rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
No, it had more to do with the demoralizing way that they’d fallen behind again. A strike away from getting out of the top of the eighth with the game still deadlocked 4-4, an error had given the Lake Hamilton Wolves the lead then a bases-loaded walk had provided the two-run cushion.
That’s why, when they rallied with three runs in the bottom of the eighth to win, 7-6, there was such a celebration. Such a dramatic comeback win can have lasting ramifications for an inexperienced team.
The Hornets’ game-winning rally began with Tanner Zuber and David Martin both taking one for the team. Lake Hamilton right-hander Sammy Bartholomew, who had been instrumental in Lake Hamilton’s 4-2 win over Bryant on Feb. 27, and the 6-4 lead his team held at the moment, surrendered the ball to teammate Nick Sanders and returned to shortstop at that point.
Jake Jackson, trying to bunt the runners to second and third, got his bunt too close to Sanders who threw to third for a force out. But David Guarno followed with a lined single to right that brought Martin home to make it 6-5.
Sanders unleashed a wild pitch allowing Jackson and Guarno a chance to move to second and third so the Wolves decided to issue an intentional walk to Danny Riemenschneider to load the bases and set up a force at every base. They brought their infield in as Bryant’s Drew Short came to the plate, in hopes of getting a force at the plate that would preserve the lead.
On the first pitch, Short cracked a grounder that Bartholomew moved to his left to glove. Despite that, the shortstop chose to come home with the throw. It looked like it’d be a bang-bang play as it was but the hurried throw sailed to the backstop. Not only did Jackson score but so did the hustling Guarno to win the game.
Sophomore Trent Daniel picked up his first varsity win on the mound for the Hornets. Daniel, the third Bryant pitcher, had made his varsity debut in the top of the eighth after Lake Hamilton had taken a one-run lead. He issued the bases-loaded walk that made it a two-run lead but then got the final out by inducing a groundout to short.
Senior Aaron Beard had pitched well as the starter, striking out seven, walking one, hitting a batter and giving up one hit in three innings. Junior Ryan Wilson worked 4 2/3 innings of effective relief despite some control trouble.
Beard was a strike away from fanning the side in the opening inning but a 1-2 pitch hit Lake Hamilton’s Brock Green. Obviously affected by that, he proceeded to walk Dustin Lercher. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third but Beard had the next batter James Rucker struck out. But the third strike was in the dirt and got away from catcher Aaron Davidson. Rucker reached first as Green scored.
The Hornets got that run back in the bottom of the inning. Riemenschneider reached on an error and was forced on a grounder off Short’s bat. Short swiped second, though, and Davidson lined an RBI single to center.
In the third, Lake Hamilton regained the lead thanks to a two-out dropped flyball with runners at first and third.
Bryant tied it again in the fourth. Wilson walked, stole second and third then scored when pinch-hitter David Martin took a 3-2 pitch from Lake Hamilton lefty Dennis Fuller and shot it right back up the middle for a clutch RBI single.
After Wilson worked around a one-out single in the top of the fifth, the Hornets took their first lead in the home half. Guarno singled, took second on a wild pitch and third on Riemenschneider’s line out to center. Short followed with a two-strike sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-2.
Lake Hamilton tied it on a controversial play in the sixth. With two out and runners at the corners, Bartholomew, the runner at first, took off toward second. Wilson threw to Jackson as the lead runner Nathan Ball took off for home. Jackson appeared to get a tag on Bartholomew quickly enough to end the inning before Ball got home, but it was ruled that Bartholomew had somehow evaded the tag and not gone out of the baseline. Jackson threw to Danny Riemenschneider to get the out anyway but not before Ball had scored to tie the game.
And in the seventh, Lake Hamilton took the lead on a walk, a sacrifice and an RBI single by Lercher.
Bryant stayed alive with a run in the bottom of the inning when Riemenschneider singled and, an out later, raced all the way home on a hit-and-run single to right-center by Davidson.
Wilson surrendered a one-out double to Ball in the top of the eighth but came back to strike out the next batter. Bartholomew was issued an intentional walk to bring up Kyle White who had struck out three times and walked in the game. The count went to 3-2 before White tapped a slow grounder to third. Martin made a nice pick up on the ball and fired a low throw to first that short-hopped first sacker Justin Gaddy. Gaddy made the scoop but the ball refused to stick in his glove. White was safe and Ball scored.
The count went to 2-1 on the left-handed hitting Green before Bryant coach Terry Harper decided to bring in Daniel, a lefty. Green walked to load the bases then Lercher walked to force in the second run before Daniel found his groove and got Rucker to ground out to short to end the inning and set up the dramatic finish.