Win over Central garners league’s third seed at State for Hornets
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be 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
The Bryant Hornets rallied to a tying run in the sixth and a winning run in the seventh as they closed out their regular-season schedule with a 3-2 win over the Little Rock Central Tigers on Monday, April 30.
The win not only improved the Hornets to 15-11 overall and 8-6 in the 7A-Central Conference, it secured the league’s No. 3 seed to the Class 7A State Tournament in Van Buren which was set to commence on Friday, May 4 (see related story).
Junior left-hander Trent Daniel improved his record to 6-2 on the season with a complete-game effort on the mound. Daniel allowed just four hits and one walk to go with seven strikeouts. He also played a key role with the bat, driving in two of the Hornets’ runs including the tying tally in the sixth.
Daniel and Central lefty Drew Smyly, a University of Arkansas signee, dueled over the first four innings. Smyly, in a tune-up for State (Central had the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye at State sewn up entering the game), allowed one run and two hits in four innings. Luke Osborn relieved in the fifth and gave up the tying run in the sixth before giving way to Taylor Brown who surrendered the winning run in the seventh.
The Tigers got their two runs and three of their hits in the third after Daniel had set down the first seven batters he faced. With one out, Jim Manney had the only solid hit of the inning, a sharp single to left. A bloop hit by David Chucoski allowed Manney to reach third. Daniel appeared to be out of the inning when Geoffrey Aultz hit a grounder to Cody Walker at short. Walker stepped on second for a force and threw to first in an effort to make it an inning-ending doubleplay but the throw was too high for first sacker David Guarno to pull down. Manney scored on the play and, after Aultz stole second, Clay Washington’s slow grounder to short went for a hit. Aultz, running all the way, hustled home from second, beating the throw home from the surprised Guarno.
The Hornets were unable to take advantage of a two-out double by Tyler Pickett in the third but, in the fourth, Walker beat out a “swinging bunt” for a lead-off single. Jordan Knight followed with a pop to shallow center that Central second baseman John Murphy dropped. But, because he had to hold at first figuring the ball would be caught, Walker was forced out at second.
Smyly, however, balked Knight to second then Knight stole third. He scored when Daniel rolled one to first.
Daniel, who had pitched around a one-out walk in the top of the fourth retired eight in row through the sixth. The Hornets, meanwhile, were unable to take advantage of a one-out singles by Ryan Wilson and Joey Winiecki in the fifth. But, in the sixth, Knight singled off the third baseman’s glove with two down and Daniel ripped a liner into the gap in left-center that rolled to the fence allowing Knight to score all the way from first to tie it.
Brown relieved and got the final out with courtesy runner Anthony Raby stranded at second.
In the seventh, Central made a bid to regain the lead when Murphy led off with a single. With one out, he swiped second and, when no one covered, Pickett’s throw went into center allowing Murphy to take third.
But Daniel got Tim Watson to hit a hard grounder to third that Wilson made a nice play on, checking the runner to hold him then throwing Watson out. Daniel ended the threat by getting Manney to bounce back to the mound.
In the bottom of the inning, Wilson drew a one-out walk and raced to third on a single by Winiecki. With the infield in, Pickett hit a chopper that shortstop Clay Washington had to back up on to field. With no play at home, Washington flipped to Murphy at second for a force but Murphy had no play at first as Pickett hustled down the line as Wilson scored the winning run.