Black Sox AAA blasts Stuttgart in opener
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By ROB PATRICK
After being away at college for nine months, Justin Wells, Cory Lambert, Casey Grisham and Travis Queck made an auspicious return to the Bryant Black Sox AAA American Legion team Saturday, May 20, sparking their team to a 14-1 romp over the Stuttgart Ricemen in the 2006 season debut at Bryant High School Field.
Each was among the nine Sox players who drove in runs in the five-inning blowout. Wells, in fact, took the first pitch he saw deep over the fence in left for a three-run homer to get Bryant going.
The Sox cracked 13 hits including two each from Joey Winiecki, Danny Riemenschneider, Devin Hurt, David Martin and Wells.
Right-hander Drew Short picked up the win on the mound, scattering five hits over four innings, fanning three without a walk. Tanner Zuber worked around Bryant’s lone error in the fifth to finish it out.
“One game’s not a season but, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t know if I’ve had a group that played every pitch like this one,” stated Sox manager Craig Harrison. “(Assistant coach) Tic (Harrison) had the stat of the night: We didn’t swing and miss all night. Mine was on defense, we did not walk a batter with two guys that sometimes struggle with their control.”
“Up and down the lineup, we swung the bats good,” he noted. “We played pretty good defense too. We can go and get the ball in the outfield.
“The most important thing is they want to play,” Harrison said of his team which returns six starters and its top reserve from the 2005 State championship team. “It’s fun to be around guys that want to prove themselves. We may struggle at times this year but I think we’re going to be pretty good by the end.”
The defense was highlighted by Queck’s sprawling catch after a sprint into the gap in left-center to rob Stuttgart’s Brad Holt of an extra-base hit in the top of the second. Riemenschneider at third, Wells at short and Winiecki in center also made fine plays in the field.
Stuttgart scored its lone run in the top of the first on a one-out infield hit, a wild pitch, a groundout and a two-out single by Hunter Jeter.
The Sox countered with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the inning beginning with a fine bunt single by Winiecki to lead off the inning. Riemenschneider drew a walk then Wells unloaded to make it 3-1.
“That was pretty,” Harrison said of Winiecki’s bunt. “We didn’t bunt with Danny because I didn’t want to take the bat out of Justin’s hands. And it was no doubt (on the homer).”
Aaron Davidson got the carousel going again with a single then Stuttgart starter Alex Smith issued walks to Lambert and Devin Hurt. Davidson scored when Grisham’s shot to second was flagged down for a force out. Lambert came home when Queck’s grounder to short went for a force at second. Queck hustling to first, beat the relay which wound up a wild throw that allowed him to take second. Moments later, Martin singled up the middle to make it 6-1.
In the second, Riemenschneider was hit by a pitch. He took second on an error and third on a bouncer to first by Davidson. Lambert followed with a two-out RBI double and Hurt singled him in to make it 8-1.
Grisham was robbed again to end the inning when his drive to right-center was snared on a dive by center fielder Blake Lockwood.
But the scoring continued in the third when Martin singled, Winiecki reached on an error and Riemenschneider chopped a single over the shortstop to drive in both.
Short pitched around a pair of two-out singles in the top of the fourth then the Sox put the finishing touches on the victory with a four-run uprising. Queck, Winiecki and Riemenschneider singled in runs and Ryan Wilson, in for Wells, delivered the final run with a sacrifice fly.
Zuber needed only seven pitches to retire the side around the one-out error in the top of the fifth.