Hornets outlast 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
Sophomore left-hander Travis Wood turned in an impressive pitching debut and Andrew Norman hit the team’s first home run of the season, as the Bryant Hornets overcame some fielding woes to post an 8-6 win over the Lake Hamilton Wolves in the first round of the weather-delayed Sheridan Invitational Tournament on Monday, March 3.
The game was played, along with a first-round game between Malvern and Little Rock Catholic, at Bryant High School Field due to the conditions at one of Sheridan’s two fields. The tournament was set to return entirely to Sheridan the rest of the way.
Wood, one of the leaders of the Bryant Babe Ruth All-Star team that reached the World Series last summer, struck out nine, walked one and allowed just one hit in 3 2/3 innings for the Hornets. He fell an out short of picking up the win. Josh McClellan, the third Bryant pitcher, picked up his second victory — and the team’s -— this season with 1 1/3 innings of hitless relief.
Norman, who went 3-for-3 in the Hornets’ opening win over Malvern, extended that to 5-for-5 with hits in his first two at-bats including the second-inning solo shot to left-center which broke a scoreless tie. He flied out to deep right in the fourth to end the streak and finished 2-for-4 in the game.
Bryant went on to take a 2-0 lead in the second. After Norman’s bomb, A.J. Nixon reached on an error and Daniel Minton walked. Though Nixon was out (questionably) trying to steal third, Todd Bryan kept the inning going by hustling out an infield hit and drawing a rushed throw from Wolves second baseman Cole Ferrell. The throw was wild and Minton was able to score on the play.
Wood stuck out the first four batters he faced but the fourth one reached base on a third-strike wild pitch. But the Hornets erased the baserunner with an inning-ending doubleplay. Wood then fanned three and walked one in the third.
In the home third, the Hornets added to the lead. Korey Hunter and Norman singled and Nixon walked to load the bases.
On a wild play, Minton hit a pop up at the plate that the umpires called an infield fly. But the signal went unnoticed as Lake Hamilton catcher Andrew Endicott tried to track down the fly and missed it. He scrambled after the ball, anyway, and appeared to have a doubleplay when he touched home and threw to third. But because the infield fly rule had been invoked, Hunter was safe at the plate with no tag by Endicott and Bryan Griffith, running for Norman, was safe at third without a tag from third baseman Bryson Ferrell. Nixon moved to second on the play as well and Minton had a sacrifice fly to the catcher.
Bryan followed with a more conventional sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
Wood fanned two in the fourth inning around a fly to left, but the third strike on the second punchout was wild allowing Bryson Ferrell to reach base. Two ensuing wild pitches enabled Ferrell to reach third and a late throw by Norman following the second one was wild, letting Ferrell score.
Endicott followed with Lake Hamilton’s first hit, a slicing double to left and Bryant head coach Terry Harper called on Daniel Price to relieve. Two walks and two errors later, Lake Hamilton had tacked on two more runs to make it a 4-3 game.
A clutch, two-out single by B.J. Wood re-extended Bryant’s edge in the bottom of the inning. Travis Wood, his younger brother, scored on the play after he had walked and swiped second.
Lake Hamilton made it 5-4 in the fifth when Cole Ferrell doubled, took third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Stroope.
Without a hit, the Hornets countered with a three-run fifth. Nixon was hit by a pitch by reliever Paul Bradley. He stole second then Scott Peeler walked. Bryan sacrificed then Nick Dorsey reached on an error to load the bases. A walk to Justin Wells forced in a run. Peeler scored on a wild pitch and Dorsey came in on a safety squeeze executed by Travis Wood.
Price, who walked six in two innings, continued to struggle with his control in the bottom of the sixth. He walked three and gave up a two-out single to Cole Ferrell, just Lake Hamilton’s third safety of the game. With two down and runners at the corners, McClellan came on and got Stroope to fly out to Nixon in right to end the inning.
McClellan walked a batter in the ninth but, after he fanned Endicott, he started a game-ending doubleplay.
The Hornets advanced to play Conway, a AAAAA-Central rival, in the second round of the tournament on Tuesday, March 4.