Hornets edge Conway
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
SHERIDAN — The Bryant Hornets got in the first lick on AAAAA-Central Conference rival Conway. Though not a league contest, the Hornets handed the Wampus Cats a 4-2 setback on Tuesday, March 4, to advance to the finals of the Sheridan Invitational Tournament.
The Hornets manufactured a pair of runs with the help of Conway’s pitching in the bottom of the sixth to snap a 2-2 tie and sophomore right-hander Justin Wells, in an impressive high school debut, made it hold up as he closed out 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief in the top of the seventh.
Wells entered the game in relief of starter Daniel Minton with the game tied and runners at first and third and one out. He proceeded to strike out Conway’s No. 5 and 6 hitters to end the threat.
He pitched around a pair of walks in the sixth, fanning Jacob Boucher with runners at first and second to end the inning. In the seventh, he issued a one-out walk before closing out the win which improved the Hornets to 3-0.
Bryant gained the lead initially in the opening inning. Korey Hunter singled with one out and, with two down, Andrew Norman continued his hot hitting with a base hit to right. When the relay was mishandled as Hunter raced to third, Norman was able to hustle into second. That set up B.J. Wood who slapped the first pitch he got from Conway lefty Brandon Solburg into right for a two-run single.
After working a 1-2-3 first, Minton found himself in a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second. But he got Jon Bull to ground into a 1-2-3 doubleplay then got Greg Kuykendall to bounce back to the mound to end the threat.
The Hornets threatened in the bottom of the inning when Minton reached on an error and courtesy runner Richie Wood swiped his way to third as Todd Bryan and Travis Wood drew walks. But Richie Wood was picked off third and, after Bryan and Travis Wood worked a double steal, Hunter bounced out to third.
Conway got on the board in the third. Blake Edwards walked and Scott Coulter doubled. Minton got Boucher to ground to Andrew Moseley at third and Edwards was caught trying to score. But Peyton Hillis followed with an RBI single.
With runners at second and third, Minton stepped up, however. He fanned Brian McClain and got Blake Ragan to bounce out to second to end the threat and protect the Bryant lead.
A lead-off double by A.J. Nixon went for naught in the bottom of the third and Conway tied it in the fourth. Keagan Leech led off with a single up the middle. An out later, Kuykendall singled him to third. The Hornets tried to end the inning with a doubleplay when Edwards bounced to second but they could only get the force at second and Leach was able to score the tying tally.
Bryant’s decisive rally in the sixth began with the only hit of the inning, a single by Scott Peeler. Wells was hit by a pitch then Bryan Griffith, running for Peeler, moved up to third on an errant pickoff play. Dustin Tinkler then put down what appeared to be a base-line hugging bunt single only to have it called foul. He then bounced to the mound and Conway pitcher Tyler Mattox caught Griffith in a rundown. He was tagged for the first out of the inning.
But Andrew Moseley was hit by a pitch to load the bases and, in turn, Travis Wood and Hunter drew RBI walks.
Wells got Hillis to ground out to second and, after walking McClain, induced a bouncer to Hunter that produced a force at the second with B.J. Wood covering from shortstop. But Wood’s relay to first was wild and Richie Irvin advanced to second.
Wells ended it there, however, getting Kyle Purcell to tap back to the hill for the final out.