Knight snaps out of slump to spur Black Sox past Sheridan
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
Outfielder Jordan Knight was a key player in the Bryant Black Sox run to the American Legion World Series in 2007 coming through with some big hits in clutch situations. But, as the 2008 season was unfolding, Knight was struggling at the plate. He’d finished the Bryant High School season in a 2 for 14 slump and hadn’t had a hit for the Sox in the first two games.
Things didn’t improved in Knight’s first two at-bats in the third game, an Area IV league game against Sheridan on Friday, May 23. He fanned in his first two plate appearances. But, after the Sox fell behind 3-2, Knight came through in the clutch just like old times, singling in the tying run in the bottom of the sixth and, in the seventh, knocking in the game-winner in Bryant’s 4-3 victory.
“He came to me Wednesday night and we set up that tee in the cage and worked on hitting everything the other way,” recounted Sox manager Craig Harrison. “I said, ‘I don’t want to see a ball on this side of the cage off the tee. Everything’s right here.’”
Harrison referenced the right side of the infield.
“The first time up, he didn’t even swing,” he recounted of Monday’s game. “I told him, ‘You’ve just got to hang in there, hang in there, hang in there.’ I was really proud of his at-bat there in the last inning the way he stayed back and took the ball to right field.”
Cody Walker, who had singled to open the inning, scored the winning run. He had advanced to third on walks to Trent Daniel and Tyler Sawyer but remained there as Sheridan reliever Brad Tarter found his groove and retired the next two batters. The count went to 1-1 on Knight before he shot a two-hopper between first and second to end the game.
“We found a way to win,” Harrison acknowledged. “We’re not clicking on all cylinders by any stretch but we came back, down 3-2 going into the sixth and found a way to get a run there. Then it looked really good in the seventh then it looked like we were going to miss an opportunity before Jordan came through for us.”
Still, the Sox stranded nine base runners, a problem that has plagued them so far this season.
“Tic was talking about that after the game,” Harrison said, referring to his brother who assists him. “We’re leaving opportunities, especially early when we could put a team away that maybe doesn’t think they belong with us. The longer they can play with us, the more they get the energy and their fans get energy then you look up and it’s a tight game late. We can’t waste at-bats early but we’ll work on it.
“It’s just little things like that that we’ve got to keep working on,” he continued. “(Sheridan) came out here wanting to beat us bad. They came out here talking about how we’d been in the championship games and they were really proud of the way they hung with us. We’re going to get everybody’s max effort. I’m glad we’re 3-0 but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first when Walker singled, stole second, advanced to third on Sawyer’s groundout and scored on a wild pitch by Sheridan starter Hunter Humphries.
David Guarno followed with a triple but was the first of those nine runners stranded.
Sheridan tied it against Bryant starter Daniel in the second when Justin Cox walked with one out and, with two down, Ethan Burrows doubled to left-center.
That was the lone walk by Daniel in 5 2/3 innings. He shut the visitors out without a hit until running into trouble in the sixth.
In the meantime, the Sox managed to get another run across to take the lead in the fourth. Kaleb Jobe slapped a double down the left-field line, advanced to third on a bouncer to the right side by Tyler Pickett and, after Drew Ransdell was hit by a pitch with two out, came home on the front end of a double steal.
Daniel had a string of eight set down in a row end with a single to center by Nathan Ware to start the sixth. He struck out the next two but an infield hit off the lefty’s glove by Matt Buie put the tying run in scoring position.
Sawyer came on in relief and battled Cox who fouled off a pair of tough 2-2 deliveries from the Bryant right-hander before lining one down the right-field line, chasing home both Ware and Buie to give Sheridan its lead.
The Sox worked a nice relay to nail Cox trying to stretch his hit into a double, ending the inning.
In the bottom half, Guarno’s single to left was bobbled by Ware and he took the chance to advance to second. Though the throw beat him to the bag, Guarno appeared to slide around the tag and get in safely, despite protests from the Sheridan coaches and players.
An out later, Knight pulled a 1-0 pitch through the hole into left field and Guarno sprinted home with the tying run.
Tyler Pickett beat out an infield hit to keep the inning going but Humphries fanned the next two to keep it deadlocked. Sawyer, however, retired the side in order in the top of the seventh to set the stage for the Sox’ game-winning home half.