Jobe finds his groove as Hornets blast Bulldogs, reach Bock 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
PINE BLUFF — Kaleb Jobe, who does the bulk of the catching for the Bryant Hornets, hadn’t toed the pitching rubber in 20 days. His only previous outing on the mound this season had been 2 2/3 innings of relief against Benton on March 1.
So it was understandable that he wasn’t as sharp as he might otherwise be at the start of the Hornets’ game against the White Hall Bulldogs in the semifinals of the Billy Bock Classic at Taylor Field on Friday, March 21.
But the bulldog turned out to be Jobe as he worked out of bases-loaded jams in the first and third innings, found his groove (and his curveball) and turned in a six-hit shutout as the Hornets advanced to the finals of the tournament against Tuttle, Okla., with a 10-0 win over White Hall.
Jobe got some pretty good support from his defense and a lot of it from his offense. Bryant took advantage of the friendly (compared to their home park) confines of Taylor Field to blast a pair of homers and hack out nine hits to take advantage of six White Hall errors.
Jake Jackson blasted his second homer of the season, a solo shot in the third, and Drew Ransdell cranked out his first varsity round-tripper to lead off the fifth. Jackson and David Guarno finished with two hits each and Trent Daniel continued his torrid hitting with a 3 for 4 performance at the plate. He has now hit in all eight of Bryant’s games and upped his season average to a scorching .516.
As well as it turned out, things didn’t look so promising to start the game. White Hall loaded the bases with no one out on a single by Barnes Bloom, a double by Sean Baldwin and a walk to Ethan Harris.
But, much to Jobe’s credit, that was the only walk he allowed in the game.
And, after a visit from head coach Terry Harper, the right-hander bore down and struck out Bulldogs’ clean-up hitter Matt Harbison. Kris Pratt followed with a fly to right field that looked like it was deep enough for a sacrifice fly. But Guarno uncorked a tremendous throw to the plate and catcher Brady Butler put the tag on Bloom for an inning-ending doubleplay.
In the bottom of the inning, the Hornets took advantage of a couple of Bulldog miscues to scratch out a run. Jackson reached on an error, swiped second and took third when the throw down got into center field, then scored on a single up the middle by Daniel.
Neither team scored in the second. Jobe fanned two more to work around a one-out single and White Hall starter Jeffrey Hayes pitched around an error and a hit batsman.
In the top of the third, one-out singles by Baldwin and Harris had the Bulldogs threatening again, though Harris’ pop fly might’ve been caught if center fielder Jordan Knight hadn’t lost it in the twilight sky.
Still, when Jobe hit Harbison with an 0-2 pitch, the bags were full again with just one out.
But Jobe stepped up again, striking out Pratt and Louis Hamilton to keep the Bulldogs off the board. And he allowed just one hit, a two-out single by Garrett Lee in the sixth, the rest of the game.
In the bottom of the third, Jackson led off with his solo bomb but then Hayes retired the next six in a row before Ransdell unloaded on a 2-0 delivery to open the fifth, clearing the high Taylor Field fence in left-center.
The Hornets made it a run-rule with a seven-run sixth, taking advantage of three errors with four hits. Cody Walker reached on the first miscue to start the frame then Guarno beat out an infield hit. Jobe got down a nice sacrifice bunt and was able to reach safely when Hayes couldn’t field it cleanly, loading the bases.
Justin Donaldson was called upon to relieve and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Knight to make it 4-0. Guarno wound up scoring as well on a throwing error as Justin Blankenship, running for Jobe, drew a wild throw when he took off for second. Blankenship stole third and, after Ransdell walked, scored on a wild pitch. A walk to Butler kept things going. Pinch-runner Nathan Hines and courtesy runner Anthony Raby then pulled off a double steal then scored on a shot up the middle by Jackson to make it 8-0.
Daniel doubled and Tyler Sawyer walked to load the bases and, an out later, Guarno’s single to left chased home Jackson and Daniel to end the game.